Sail Date: September 2003
Just returned from a voyage on Pride of America. After reading previous reviews I went with low expectations and came back with mixed personal opinions. Pride of America is a beautiful ship and is certainly an upgrade from my previous ... Read More
Just returned from a voyage on Pride of America. After reading previous reviews I went with low expectations and came back with mixed personal opinions. Pride of America is a beautiful ship and is certainly an upgrade from my previous Hawaii cruise on the Hawaii American Cruise Line about twelve years ago. (They no longer exist). There were some things I really liked. Getting on and off the ship was a pleasant and quick experience. We (3 couples) booked two nights at the Marriott Wakiki Beach Resort prior to sailing to adjust to the time difference between Hawaii and the east coast of the mainland. Nice hotel and best of all had an NCL office where we could do all our pre-board registration which really made getting on the ship an easy process. There was a fairly long line for those who did not go through that process. It is a small office, however, and if there was a line it sometimes appeared to take a long time to get served. We had a standard balcony cabin. Small but adequate since we spent little time in the cabin. It was obvious they did not take great care in cleaning the cabins during the change over between one group leaving and another coming on board. One of our couples found shoes under the bed and the cabin was not very clean. My cabin was fine except for missing wash cloths which appeared after dinner. We later found out the cabin stewards are not only responsible for cleaning 14 cabins but also have to help move luggage. NCL needs to rethink the whole changeover process. Dining was an interesting experience. Service varied from night to night. We never did the alternate dining experiences since except for one meal (breakfast)in the Cadillac (didn't go back because of slow service). Did not feel we should pay extra for a meal. The main dining rooms were beautifully decorated however the service was inconsistent. Mostly a very young staff who did not appear to be well trained. Sometimes service was quick and efficient and at other times slow and poor. The wait staff was very pleasant and accommodating but NCL needs to train better. Some of the food was great while some was not so good. Usually had four entrees that were different each night and an additional four that stayed the same. The Aloha Cafe (buffet) was OK and offered a good variety. Overall the food was good but not great. I have cruised before and remember telling everyone about the great dining. Not so this time. We are not drinkers so I can't say much about the bars except I ordered on drink and waited 20 minutes to get it and another time they had a drink special but when I ordered it they were out of the mix. Sodas!! I don't personally think you should have to pay for soda when tea, iced tea, lemonade and coffee are included but it seems to be an industry standard. You can buy a sticker to put on you cabin card for which you pay around $35, which we did, but found out we could not drink that much soda in seven days to make up the cost. All of the shore excursions were very good. We did at least one each day and two on one day. Be sure to book in advance. Sometimes sold out and the lines on the ship at the excursion desk were long the first couple of days. I booked on-line and had some difficulties. I found out the excursion staff at NCL in Miami doesn't seem to know what they are talking about since they booked us on a couple of tours that when we got on board the ship found out we could not go on them because they were too close together in timing since you need at least 45 minutes between tours which is something they don't tell you anywhere that I could find. The excursions are somewhat expensive and NCL charges $15 to $25 more than if you booked them on your own but they also eliminate the hassle of booking your own. It was worth the cost to me. We did a helicopter ride ($299 per person- WOW!) which was spectacular. They charge you 1.5 times if you are over 250 pounds and they weigh everyone who says they are over 200 lbs. The only objection is they weigh you in the main lobby next to the excursion desk. Tacky!! One of our party was weighed in at 251 and charged the extra. When he got to the helicopter terminal he was weighed again and weighed 238. He did get a refund. Entertainment was good. I am a musician and I liked all of the musical productions. It beats watching CNN in your cabin. My over all impression was NCL has a corner on the market and knows that most people only do this once in a lifetime so they could perhaps get away with cutting corners. They did a great job in some aspects of the cruise and in others they need to work on training and quality. However, I would recommend doing the cruise since it is, in my opinion, the best way to see Hawaii and hope NCL gets the message that quality,training, and first impressions do matter. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
Here is some background on our group. We had six members in our group with a wide range of ages. My parents are in their early 80's, my wife and I are in our late 40's and our two sons are age 15 and 19. My parents have been on ... Read More
Here is some background on our group. We had six members in our group with a wide range of ages. My parents are in their early 80's, my wife and I are in our late 40's and our two sons are age 15 and 19. My parents have been on 21 prior cruises and my wife and I have been on 5. Most of our cruises have been on Princess, Royal Caribbean and Holland America. This is our first cruise with NCL. We choose this cruise for the timing of its' itinerary through the Panama Canal. Mainly for our boys who are on summer vacation from school. We were a little apprehensive about taking an inaugural cruise, expecting a lot of major problems but to our surprise we experienced minimal issues. We really enjoyed this cruise and felt that the Pride of America crew provided outstanding service. If you are a person who lets little things bother you, you probably would not feel the same way about this cruise. We looked at the bigger picture and didn't let some of the minor things get to us. I would recommend this ship and would not hesitate to sail on NCL in the future. Listed below are some of the positive things we felt about the ship and some areas that needed improvement. POSITIVES: 1. Service provided by the crew was outstanding. From the dining room service, bars ,cabin attendant, the entertainment and ship's officers all went out of their way to provide excellent service. 2. Pride of America is a beautiful and very well appointed. Especially in the dining rooms and in the common areas. 3. All American crew. No language barriers.!!! Who says Americans don't work hard! This is the hardest working crew we've experienced. 4. Teen program was the best we've had on any other ship. 5. The food was not the best we've ever had, but it was above average. 6. Shore excursions were well organized and managed. Very professional guides and very knowledgeable especially in Costa Rica. 7. The 2 Broadway shows were well done. Billy Mullen, WT Greer were excellent performers. Comedians were average. The cruise directors Rich and Shona did a very nice job keeping things organized and flowing. 8. The photographers were excellent, especially Michael who was a real perfectionist took some outstanding pictures of our family. 9. Meeting up with all of our Cruise Critic friends and having a great time. A special thanks to Nancy for organizing our group and going the extra mile to make sure we had special attention. 10. The ship was spotless. There was a major effort by the crew to keep the ship clean and spotless. Some people complained about dirty knives and forks; we personally never encountered any issues regarding silverware. 11. Freestyle dining was our first experience and we enjoyed having the flexibility of eating at our convenience. 12. Good value for the money. Negatives: 1. The 4th of July celebration was weak. Only a 45 minute party late a night out by the pool was very disappointing. This ship was named Pride of America and was the first US flagged ship in 50 years, NCL should have made a bigger splash on 4th of July. 2  Air conditioning in cabins were still being worked on as we cruised. Some rooms were hot while others were cold. Ours was an ice-box and we compensated by opening our cruise cabin sliding door to the balcony. 3. No navigation information on the ship or on TV. This was disappointing because we never knew where we were at any given time. We also didn't hear any of the announcements in our cabins or on TV, this could possibly be a safety issue. We had to step outside our cabins to hear announcements. 4. A little bit of a hole for college age students ages 18 to early 20s. 5. Not much they can do about cabin size, but felt it was the smallest balcony cabin we've had especially since there were three people in ours. 6. Although we really enjoyed Costa Rica, Panama Canal and Cabo San Lucas we Roatan Island could have been skipped or replaced with a better port. 7. Longer stay in Cabo San Lucas, 5 hours was not enough especially with having to tender people in. 8. The specialty restaurants with a cover charge bothered us a little. We know this is the trend in the cruise industry but felt that we were being nicked and dimed on the cover charges. The bottom line is we all had a very nice time and would sail with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
My wife, 2 brothers and I sailed on the Pride of Aloha on August 27, 2005. I thought it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were disappointed that the boat didn't do the evening sail to see lava on the Big Island. I heard ... Read More
My wife, 2 brothers and I sailed on the Pride of Aloha on August 27, 2005. I thought it was a great way to see the Hawaiian Islands. We were disappointed that the boat didn't do the evening sail to see lava on the Big Island. I heard from our cabin steward that it was because the boat was having engine problems. I thought that was pretty messed up considering how new the ship is. Our Hertz shuttle driver said that was just an excuse for NCL to save on fuel. Anyway, it was a good cruise. The entertainment on the boat was okay but we tried to spend as much time off the boat as we could. I mean c'mon, it's Hawaii! My biggest complaint about the ship as many other past reviewers have mentioned: wait times for the restaurants. Honestly, it can be quite outrageous. Even for the main restaurants its worthwhile to make reservations just because the waits can be greater than an hour. The specialty restaurants need to be reserved well in advance so don't leave it to the last minute. I'd recommend you rent cars and drive around the islands on your own. You can see so much more. On Maui we went to the Old Lahaina Luau which was great. We also did the Road to Hana but try to do some research before going on the drive. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2005
This review has been written whilst on the ship, Pride of America, July 12-22, 2005, San Francisco to Hawaii and therefore I may tend to use both the past and present tense when writing apologies in advance! First let me preclude ... Read More
This review has been written whilst on the ship, Pride of America, July 12-22, 2005, San Francisco to Hawaii and therefore I may tend to use both the past and present tense when writing apologies in advance! First let me preclude any other thoughts and say, we love cruising. Let me also state that the reason we love cruising is because of the choice you have. For us, a great cruise is the opportunity to do nothing and to eat well. The itinerary on this cruise meant we had 5 days at sea to start and 5 ports of call ending in Honolulu at the end, therefore it seemed absolutely perfect! As a result of our likes and dislikes, we always tend to book the best cabin available, whether that be a Garden Villa, owners suite or penthouse, it doesn't matter. What does matter is enjoying our space and keeping away from other people if we choose to do so. Now that may sound odd but we work in the tourism trade and on vacation we prefer to keep away from tourists! Cruising for us, meets all our needs. We can do what we want, when we want and with whom we want. So, with that said, our experience on POAm has been very indifferent. Firstly the all American crew.... it simply doesn't work IMO. Very few smiling faces, few people enjoying their jobs and restaurant staff that would be best suited to McDonalds, Burger King or Ponderosa at the best. Further, the amount of gay staff is unbelievable. I've no problem with gay people in general if they are good at their jobs but frankly, they weren't on POAm...with one notable exception....our butler, who was great once he got to know our likes and dislikes. One thing that we have found hard to take is the staff pretty much accusing us of contributing to our problems. For example, in the Spa on the second day at sea, on the first we had spent $500 - $600 with them, the gum-chewing receptionist called us at 3.20pm and asked my wife if she had an appointment today? Yes, my wife responded at 4pm. The receptionist then accused my wife of missing her appointment, as it was 4.20pm on her watch! My wife informed her the ship's clock was showing 3.20pm on our TV and that she must have made a mistake. My wife then called the concierge after hanging up with the dumb receptionist and he confirmed the ships time at 3.20pm. He said he'd call back and confirm the appointment was still on. At 3.55pm we hadn't received a call so my wife went to the spa for her appointment. 10 minutes later she was back as the half-baked gum-chewing receptionist was now making out the appointment was for 3pm! My wife showed her the appointment card she had with a time of 4pm. The manager was duly called and it was explained there was a mix up. My wife then asked who was going to do her spa treatment and when told that it was to be the gum-chewing receptionist she duly cancelled that appointment and the subsequent appointments we had made for the duration of the cruise. That's another $600 plus saved through bungling POA inefficiency. Then we have our useless cabin steward. On embarkation day we are used to being greeted by our stateroom steward within the first couple of hours but not this time. This sole didn't turn up until evening time and frankly, we could easily have missed the lifeboat drill if we were so minded. Then he repeatedly forgot to bring us the newssheet for the following day and we didn't see a chocolate until day 3! Capping this off, he then didn't make up our cabin for 3+hours in the morning. We usually had it available and marked up "make up cabin" by 8.30am but if it was done by mid-day it was an achievement. We complained to management on day 4 and he came and tried to blame us for not saying anything to him! He was then good the following day but then he probably had had his card marked by the Hotel Director after we complained. So ...there we were expecting him to improve...fat chance. The following day at Hilo we got off the ship at 8.30am. We returned at 1.30pm and the room still wasn't done....he was still "detailing" it! Fortunately one of the senior hotel staff was walking our corridor and seemed pretty horrified by what she saw. We don't know what she said to him as she took him out on the balcony but it didn't seem to make any difference as when we returned in an evening we found he'd moved the sofa bed away from the wall about 8-12 inches and there was a right mess behind it comprising of swarf shavings and toe nails from previous guests. Again we called the Hotel Director and again he came out, took a look and said it wasn't good enough. He did offer to change room steward for us but wanted to give him another chance. So his chance came and he blew it big time. We got off the ship in Nawiliwili, Kauai at approximately 8.30am and had a thoroughly enjoyable tour to Waimea Canyon. We got back to the ship around 2.15pm and went to our stateroom where to our utter dismay our cabin hadn't been made up yet again. We reported this to the hotel director once again and within an hour the cabin had been done by our guy who had apparently been feeling ill that morning. Funny that, because at 8.30am when we saw him he was very chirpy and didn't at all seem ill. So....let's move onto the food. Day one we went to the French. On previous NCL ships this has been a highlight and we wanted to start our vacation in the best manner possible. Overall this ranked as a 5/10 and was something of a let down from a food quality point of view. The staff were OK and the manager was a guy who didn't know the itinerary of the ship...we found that amusing ! Day two saw us try out the Steakhouse. We were eventually greeted by a hostess who decided she needed to walk round the restaurant to see there was space for our reserved reservation. Again, quite comical as we could clearly see many open tables ! After what seemed like an eternity we ordered. The waitress was pleasant enough but hadn't a clue what to do with the wine. We ordered Pouilly Fume and also a nice red zinfandel. When it came, she opened the white wine without showing us the bottle and we discovered she had delivered Pouilly Fuisse...a $ 50 bottle. $ 12 more expensive than our order. Further, amazing how the prices of Fuisse has risen from the mid 30's to $50 these days...last November we were on the Sun and it was $ 32 ! Oh well, c'est la vie. It didn't matter, crab cakes were due any second. So we waited and waited and when they did arrive we noticed they were burnt on the one side (facing down of course) and cold in the middle ! We both left them and waited for the steaks we had ordered. They were just about acceptable but we were disappointed with the veg and the potato. Live and learn....we won't be visiting the Steakhouse again. On 3rd night we opted for East meets West and this was nothing short of a disaster. We arrived promptly, were shown our table efficiently and from there things got worse. We ordered our arrived and we ordered our meal. Starters arrived after 15 minutes and we're very very poor. We then had another 35-45 mins before our next food arrived and when it did, it was nothing short of disgusting. The duck, in particular, was awful and I would think twice about giving it to a dog. My eldest daughter had pork and that was inedible. By the time I'd tried the alleged Chicken Tikka Masala I had had enough....we left. Another restaurant we won't be revisiting. Shame really, we had made further reservations for a couple of nights time and we had also booked the Teriyaki room...we cancelled both reservations, particularly after remembering our Teriyaki experience on the Star ! This could only be worse ! We then proceeded to the main dining room to get something to eat. Our evening was rescued by Kevin and Amanda who were truly excellent. Exactly what the specialty restaurants are calling out for. People with a sense of humor, people who know their job and people who can actually perform their task with a smile on their face. We stuck with them from that point on except for one night where the hotel director comped us in at the French as some sort of an apology for the problems we had so far faced. This time the French was much better but the quality of the steak I had still wasn't as good as I've had on other Norwegian ships. Day 4 saw us at Little Italy and whilst the wait at the table was a little longer than one may have hoped for, the food was OK and the service attentive. It was the best specialty restaurant we came across but again nothing to be excited about and nothing to tempt us back. Other frustrations with dining were seen at the Cadillac Diner. The reception staff here are utterly brain dead. I watched in bewilderment that a party of three couldn't be accommodated at a table that needed a chair from a nearby table bringing over. Instead, the brain dead who operate this room seated a young couple at this table and left the elderly party of three standing for 20 mins. Seemed to me they were unwilling to exercise both their brains and their brawn. And I'll not talk about the food.....or drink except to say a chocolate milk for my daughter was also beyond them ! In conclusion, the food has been very poor and dear Amanda was horrified by the "chocolate decadence" served up one actually tasted like washing up liquid and she regretted trying a piece of mine immediately she took a bite. The buffet service is inadequate and although not great pasta lovers we would have appreciated a better choice away from the burgers/hot dogs and general meats on offer. The buffet really wasn't organized well and the food on offer was generally unappealing. As for the lunch time offerings in the main restaurant, again, all we can say is that the food was uninspiring and the staff bordering on ignorant. Very often it seemed to blend into much of a muchness and the choices we made were based more on hunger rather than "I've got to have that". Let's now talk of the ship layout for a minute. At first glance everything looks great. Lots of deck space and a feel of spaciousness. However, as you explore the ship you become aware of decks with only one entrance/exit and they just feel odd. What bewildered me was the space allocated at the front of the ship for the business area. A huge auditorium takes center stage and another 3-4 rooms capable of taking 30-75 people each could be found. Now if NCL believe that they have an audience for this space in Hawaii, then good luck to them, but personally I just can't see this space being used unless the ship operates from New York. Something I guess it won't do as the ship has no casino. The casino is no big deal to me but for business people, I rather think they like this sort of thing....go figure! The other thing that surprised me was the size of the spa. It was small. About 8 treatment rooms and a small sauna / steam room in each of the male and female changing rooms. What happened here? Where are the indoor pools, jacuzzi's, etc? A very big disappointment. Moving on from that, everyone's pet I don't know if "Pride of America" has got everyone wound up and extra vigilant, for that read stupid, but this cruise really did take the biscuit. For those that don't know it, it's an English expression...look it up one day ;). Anyway, San Francisco it was fine, everything ran properly and everyone was on the ship in decent time even allowing for the 2 hour delay whilst waiting for latecomers from the airport. However, upon reaching Hilo, Hawaii it became clear we were entering another world. There was one Coast guard cruiser and two or three other boats equipped with guns coasting around the ship. Coast guard security was crawling all over the place including on the ship. As if this wasn't bad enough the security in the ports of Hilo, Kona, Kahului (Maui) and Nawiliwili (Kauai) were out right ridiculous. On most mornings we were woken by a Coast Guard helicopter circling the ship for hours on end, so those that wanted a lie in practically had no chance. Upon returning to the ship, the security staff excelled themselves and it seemed that passengers were practically being strip-searched at times...and I'm not joking. On one occasion I witnessed several passengers who were very angry when asked to take their hats off and then proceed behind a white line which already housed an overcrowded area whilst we were waiting for the tender to take us back to the ship from Kona. This wouldn't have been so bad if the guy had asked nicely but he was downright rude and arrogant...enough to annoy the mildest of people. All I can say is thank heavens it wasn't raining or that it wasn't exceptionally hot because if it had of been, Norwegian may well have seen their first riot as the one 20 foot covered area was totally inadequate. At all ports we had the privilege of having our bags searched by hand. Now forgive me here but aren't we in 2005 and X-ray machines have been around long enough for either the port authority or the cruise line to use? Naturally this ridiculous state of affairs caused long lines and many fed up guests of the ship who have paid decent money to have a vacation. Everyone is in favor of security but please let's keep it sensible and to the point. Opening and sniffing people's drinks is taking it too far IMO and I couldn't believe it when it happened to my daughters (aged 11 and 15)...maybe they thought they were smuggling a swig of alcohol on board in their lemon and lime drinks...who knows? Capping this all off, we had security at Maui to contend with. Getting back to the ship and through security was comical. These bunch of cretins (I know no other word) decided to stop the coaches at the entrance to the port and one security guard got on board the bus and inspected all our credentials! Of course, this caused traffic to backlog and much inconvenience to all concerned. Why on earth they didn't have someone stationed as you entered the terminal is beyond me or why they couldn't park the coaches and then let people off after they had been inspected was beyond me but no, we all had to sit there until they cleared the bus completely. The security guard came on board took 5-8 mins inspecting photo id's and ship board cards and then allowed us to drive another 50 feet where everyone got off to go to the ship through the main security. You really couldn't make this up could you..anyone heard of common sense? So to round all this off, we were tailed everywhere in Hawaii by the Coast Guard cruiser. I can bet this cost a pretty penny and I'd love to know which way we are picking up the tab for this, is it through our cruise fare or through yet more tax that the wonderful Mr. Bush has imposed on us through his ridiculous ill thought out war? So, overall, a very disappointing cruise and probably our last with NCL. My report probably seems to be very negative but we did actually enjoy ourselves. Our balcony was one of the best we have had at sea and thus, we spent a lot of time there. Our butler was fabulous and managed all our requests in reasonable time but best of all was the other passengers we mixed with at meal times. From speaking to them, most had similar comments in regard to the food so most of us pitched up with Kevin and Amanda and we got to know each other reasonably well enough to have some great fun in a slapstick sort of way. We've now experienced 4 NCL ships in the last 18 - 24 months and the time has come to go elsewhere. I'll be interested to see how POA copes in the next two years but I think the policy of employing Americans only has to be reviewed. Forgive me here, but a lot of the staff we saw and met, clearly weren't enjoying their time on Board and as such, it made the whole experience poor. Maybe they are accustomed to better paying jobs & better working conditions than people from other cultures? Maybe it's also that they're just damn lazy and want to take the easy way instead of going the extra mile to please guests on the ship? Who knows? All in all we still enjoyed our cruise. The ports of call were great and the days at sea were wonderfully relaxing. Just a shame so many things didn't come together to make a great cruise but we only have to wait until November for our next...Princess here we come. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
We JUST returned from a cruise on Pride of America. We are frequent cruisers and have had some wonderful experiences. This was NOT one of them. Along with many fellow passengers, we are disenchanted with Norwegian Cruise Lines and will ... Read More
We JUST returned from a cruise on Pride of America. We are frequent cruisers and have had some wonderful experiences. This was NOT one of them. Along with many fellow passengers, we are disenchanted with Norwegian Cruise Lines and will never cruise with them again. This voyage was clearly undertaken for training the crew and not on behalf of the passengers (we were used and abused). There are some serious communication and organization issues that must be resolved before I would even consider recommending this cruise to anyone. Here are descriptions of just a few of the things that contributed to our miserable voyage: On the first day of the cruise, we arrived to find our cabin prepared for double occupancy, not the triple occupancy that we had booked. We reported this to the reception desk at 2:30 and called 3 more times between 2:30 and 10:00. Each time we were told that it would be taken care of, but nothing happened. Finally at 10 pm, we started flagging down housekeeping staff in the hall. We procured a pillow, but no one came to help us fold out the trundle bed. Because we'd been traveling all day, the two of us with beds went to sleep. We were awakened at nearly 11 pm as two maids loudly came in to make the bed. After talking to other passengers, we learned this was common practice. Another issue was the chocolate. Call us decadent, but one of the things we love most about cruising is receiving chocolates on our pillow each night. We did not receive them the first or second nights, so I called down to reception to request them. The receptionist replied "um......I don't think we do that.....some people are allergic to chocolate". Upon talking to other passengers, I learned that they had received chocolates, so I asked again. Another receptionist told me that NCL doesn't give chocolates on pillows. On the third night, we had a miracle—chocolate on two of our three pillows!! For the next few nights we received either two or three chocolates, but did not receive ANY on the seventh night, so I called again. This time, our complaint was taken seriously and we received six chocolate covered strawberries in our room on the eighth night. This thoughtful gesture went a long way toward sweetening our thoughts about the service on the boat...until the next night, when we did not receive chocolates for everyone in our cabin. Admittedly, chocolates are a very small thing, but this was a good example of the schizophrenic customer service that characterized this cruise. In addition to the above issues: there is no ATM or bank on the ship, room service typically takes at least an hour and a half, many food and beverage items on every menu are not available (on the 9th day of the cruise, we were informed they had no egg beaters, Splenda, potatoes, or many menu selections), sections of the upper decks smell faintly of sewage, and our breakfast room service order was only correct one of 12 times! Our experiences are not unique. We met people who didn't have cold water in their rooms and some that didn't have hot water. We met people with room refrigerators that didn't work and some with faulty air conditioning. We met a woman who arrived to find dishes and dirty boxer shorts in her room and a couple who paid for a suite and arrived to find that they'd been downgraded to a much smaller room. Disembarkation began nearly 2 hours after it was supposed to--it was a disorganized nightmare! The cruise director gave out incorrect information in the briefing and inconvenienced many passengers. Despite these pervasive issues, we managed to have a good time (our family took bets on service issues and played 'survivor'!). Some of the waiters and service people went out of their way to circumvent obvious institutional inadequacies. The bottom line is that NCL booked passengers on this ship before it was ready. Efficient routines hadn't been established and staff hadn't been trained. The company may have offset costs by selling berths on the transit voyage through the Panama Canal. However, given the long term damage to brand equity caused by charging people full price for what is obviously a training cruise, that was probably not a wise decision. NCL management must focus on correcting these issues before we would come within a nautical mile of this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
It was scary that on the inaugural cruise the utensils were always dirty. Not one day without finding a dirty utensil. The entertainment was good and shore excursions ok but aside from that, there was lots of chaos. Granted it was the ... Read More
It was scary that on the inaugural cruise the utensils were always dirty. Not one day without finding a dirty utensil. The entertainment was good and shore excursions ok but aside from that, there was lots of chaos. Granted it was the inaugural cruise, but they kept running out of food and everything on the ship seemed to malfunction. There was a horrible smell near the back of the ship and scarily the ship was filthy by mid trip and this was the FIRST true itinerary. Had major room problems such as stains on the sheets, not enough towels, cups, and for the most part lower than average service. Certainly do not get the bang for your buck. Definitely will not ride with NCL again and this gives a bad name to America. On the fourth of July there was a party that lasted 45 minutes and that was it for the whole day....on the PRIDE OF AMERICA ship. Not much else to say except that after riding on the Princess line before this was extremely disappointing at the least. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
Just got back from a very disappointing trip on the Pride of America. This was our seventh cruise (all on different lines) and the worst one yet. Norwegian was not up to par, by any standards. Almost everyone you talked to had problems. We ... Read More
Just got back from a very disappointing trip on the Pride of America. This was our seventh cruise (all on different lines) and the worst one yet. Norwegian was not up to par, by any standards. Almost everyone you talked to had problems. We had our share: sometimes hot water, sometimes cold, no air conditioning for a day, cold food, poor service in the dining room and with cabin maintenance. Noise and laughter in the hall by cleaning crew and one morning music started playing over the speaker at 6:30 a.m. Cabins are small. Ship is plain and not many activities. Cruise director kept asking everyone to be patient, but they never offered any solutions to problems. Most of the entertainment was great, except for the lady impersonator, as many people walked out on her. We chose to take the express check out, because we had an early flight, but we waited in the hall for almost three hours before we could start getting off. Many people we talked to were going to miss their flights simply because Norwegian was so unorganized. This ship was clearly not ready to be put into service. The ice cream machine broke down and they could not fix it until we got to LA. The restaurant computer system had problems. On the first morning at breakfast we were told they were out of hash browns. We bought time on the internet and that was a mistake, as they did not keep correct track of the time. They never did open the hot tub on deck 12 aft. As most people do, I waited for a much deserved enjoyable vacation, but Norwegian created a big disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
My wife, Audrey Newman, our grandson Gavin, and I, Howard Wallenstein, had been looking forward to this trip through the Panama Canal on NCL's newest ship Pride of America. Our first sight of her alongside the pier in Miami on June ... Read More
My wife, Audrey Newman, our grandson Gavin, and I, Howard Wallenstein, had been looking forward to this trip through the Panama Canal on NCL's newest ship Pride of America. Our first sight of her alongside the pier in Miami on June 25th was not a disappointment. Her gleaming white hull with the distinctive artwork was spectacular. Further, we were not disappointed in the beautiful public rooms and our staterooms. Unfortunately, the joy ended here. Our Experience: The ship layout appears to be of random design. It is not possible to access the Liberty Dining Room (the "upstairs" to the Skyline Dining Rooms' "downstairs") directly from anywhere else on the ship except from the aft elevators or through the Skyline Dining Room. On several occasions we had to go out onto the weather decks in the rain to get around either the Cadillac Diner or the Lazy J Steak House as opposed to going all the way forward and down to the fifth deck and then aft and through the Skyline Restaurant. Very annoying. The Pride of America was about 18 or 20 days out of the building yards in Bremerhaven when we boarded, and the air conditioning system was not under control. All the public rooms, the restaurants, main lobby, and the Hollywood theater were too cold to linger in without a warm sweater or jacket. Several rooms had no a/c at all. Tests were run almost daily on our staterooms "to determine the full load capacity" we were told. This required placing our a/c control in maximum cooling while locking the controls. We were told that "these tests were only for an hour". Four hours later they were still under "test," and repeated calls to reception produced no technician's appearance. Finally, five hours later a technician appeared, and I closely observed his procedure in unlocking our a/c control. During this "test" our room temperature dropped into the 50's, and the room became uninhabitable. Where could we go? All the public rooms were of the same temperature. Who brings cold weather clothing onto a cruise into the tropics? All further "tests" were limited by me to one hour, and then I unlocked the a/c control and put on the heat! The two rooms next to ours were occupied by our grandsons and dear friends. I stopped the "tests" in these rooms as well. The next most serious problem was in the dining rooms. These comments are for the Skyline and Liberty Dining rooms, Little Italy (until the last two days when the management changed - more later on this issue), Lazy J Steak House, and East Meets West. There are two major problems: food preparation and service. Food preparation first. I cannot comment on the layout or management of the galleys since we were unable to observe them first hand, however ongoing bottlenecks caused delays in food preparation all cruise long. The first night the appearance of the steak, which everyone ordered, was delayed over one hour. That's right, we sat on our hands for more than one hour after the appetizer, soup and salad were served. Has no one aboard operated a large dining room before? We had problems completing our meals in less than two and a half hours. We started initially planning to go to dinner at 7:30 planning on attending the 9:30 show in the Hollywood theater. We were forced to miss dessert and rush through the entrEe or miss the start of the entertainment. Eventually we started dinner at 6:45 with the request to our waiter to complete meal service by 9:00 p.m.. Late arrival at the show meant that our family of six could not sit together. Additionally the waiter and his assistant were reversed in their interaction from what we had observed, and enjoyed, on our prior 25 or so cruises. Aboard the Pride of America the waiters had the job of running to the galley to fetch the food, and the assistant cleared the table, set the bread service, and (sometimes, when he remembered) get the drink order. This forced the least experienced member of the table service crew to manage the meal experience. One evening at the start of the cruise Mr. Michael Landry, whose card has the title "Food and Beverage Director" stopped at our table and inquired "How are things going? Do you have any comments about the food experience?" We described the above observations to him. The only change from the pattern we have described was the next day when all the tables for two were clustered in the front of the room in response to complaints from several couples that the "fuss" caused by several small children was disturbing their meal, and the "romantic mood was spoiled". Of course this change had negative repercussions in that the waiters in the rest of the room now had to handle all the large tables which naturally slowed things down further. We had observed the senior ships' managers lounging in the specialty restaurants, smoking in groups in the common spaces and drinking a leisurely cup of coffee. In my 45 years experience as a Naval Officer and senior manager in the food industry I had learned to LEAD BY EXAMPLE. The lack of hands-on supervision was visible in all ship operations. The only exception to this ship wide problem was in the Cadillac Grill. The manager of this operation was David Verschoor. He closely managed the Grill. Service was prompt, the wait staff were attentive and appeared well trained and competent. The last two days of the cruise his talent must have been spotted and he was transferred to the Little Italy Restaurant. We had our last meal of the cruise in this dining room and the change from our first experience was like night and day. This proves my contention that management is severely lacking on the Pride of America. On the same subject: there is a serious fault somewhere in the food handling chain. My wife, myself, and our grandson had a severe case of "runny tummy". In the case of our grandson (13 years old) it required two trips to the ships' doctor. We found him caring and competent. He was very concerned that this might be a transmittable form, and quarantined Gavin to his room for 24 hours. He prescribed a bland diet which would be served to him in his room by Room Service. Room service could/would not comply. All attempts to order white rice and plain chicken failed. "It is not on the menu, we will not make something special". We coped by delivering food from the Aloha Buffet. An informal interviewing of all the people we came across during the last three days revealed that almost one person of each couple questioned reported a case of "runny tummy". By informal count we spoke to over 250 couples. This is a serious problem. One more fact on the subject of food preparation. The garbage handling system for the Aloha Grill was built too close to the Little Italy Dining Room forcing the Little Italy Dining Room which is directly next to the Aloha Grill to fetch its' food from the main dining rooms six decks away. Yet, under Mr. Verschoor's management the service and dining experience was excellent, and what we have learned to expect from a first class cruise ship. Lastly, and the most embarrassing to as an ex-Naval Officer was the total lack of seamanship on the Pride of America. Our last scheduled port visit was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The absence of pier facilities required that shore visits must be made via tenders. We have visited this port on other ships and had experienced small boat operations before. My Naval experience was in USS Cambria (APA-36) an assault ship whose mission was landing Marines over the beach. We earned our pay by unloading, filling and dispatching landing craft. Our Pride of America schedule had us anchoring at 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. and starting tender operations by 10:00 a.m. With a scheduled ship departure at 3:00 p.m. (last boat departs shore at 2:30 p.m.) we could anticipate a brief, but tolerable four and a half hour visit. Short, but tolerable for our grandson to "taste" Mexico, and renew memories for us. Having drawn Tender #8, we anticipated a short wait, and decided to watch tender operations from the sixth deck. What I witnessed was complete chaos, and an increasingly dangerous operation. There were 3 to 4 (varying from time to time) seamen handling lines, and no visible supervision. The tenders were supplied by the port and were handled by experienced boat handlers. As I said the ship was anchored. In these conditions, there is no net current at slack tide, up to a few knots of current when the tide is running. Under all conditions the ships' head is into the source of current, as she is anchored. That is why ship designers install a bitt in the ships' hull forward of the tender platform. What is supposed to happen is that ships' sailors bend (attach) a line called a "painter" to this bitt, and it should be of sufficient length to run to the platform. As a small boat approaches, the deckhand seizes the painter, and bends it around the boats' forward cleat. This act stabilizes the boat alongside of the ship allowing the attachment of another line, and the discharge and loading of personnel. No painter was in use. Further, and adding to the dangerous situation, seamen on the platform ALWAYS bent the first line to the boat onto the aft cleat, assuring instability and the swinging of the boat at right angles to the platform causing the boat to cast off and try again. One more thing added to the chaos: when a seaman caught a line from the boat he did not know that his weight and strength was insufficient to keep the boat alongside, and he should immediately take a turn around the cleat in front of him to snub the line to keep it from running and allow its' further tightening. After watching this debacle for two hours, and listening to my fellow passengers' grumbling, I went to the Reception desk and asked to speak to the most senior officer available. The Assistant Front Desk Manager appeared. I described what I had observed and requested that this situation be made known to the responsible operating officer, and a decision made to extend the shore visit by several hours. He refused stating that the ships' schedule was unalterable. So, off I went with my grumbling shipmates. We hit shore at 12:30, had a wonderful (ha!) two hours visit, and was aboard at 2:45. Adding insult to injury during embarkation ship personnel had dispatched one of the their lifeboats to fetch supplies from the port. Loading tenders was interrupted for 35 precious minutes while the seamen attempted to bring the lifeboat alongside to receive several crew members. Then when it returned about 3:30 to unload these precious emergency supplies, four loaded tenders had to cast off and heave-to while these supplies were off loaded as a priority cargo more important that four boatloads of increasingly seasick passengers. And what was the emergency supplies? It was toilet paper and bananas! As it worked out, tender operations continued until 4:30 p.m. This delay could not be made up over the next 36 hours of cruising, and we arrived late in Los Angeles. Delays caused by the documentation of about 75 American citizen crew added to the final time we were able to debark. We used the NCL "Express Disembarkation", which means we hauled our own luggage and stood waiting in the sixth deck passageway with about 500 other guests who had elected the "Express Debarkation". Needless to say we missed our scheduled flight, and the next one we changed to, finally arriving at LAX at 12:15. Flight connections failed all day, and we arrived home exhausted the next day. All personal spirits and wine were confiscated from us upon boarding. They were returned when we arrived in LA, and this operation took over an hour. We had lots and lots of time waiting to get off. As a parting note, we found the lack of "work ethic" among the US crew as compared to foreign staffed ships. Our stateroom steward had to be reminded daily to fully replace the in-room coffee service, and wash out the pot and throw away the spent coffee filter. Our room was never dusted, and the balcony glass was not wiped to remove the salt deposits. I mention these petty items because they illustrate the condition, and many of our fellow passengers cited the same issues. Every port (even the Panama Canal) saw several crew members with their personal luggage leave the ship. Most were disenchanted by the requirements to work, and the rest were terminated for various reasons. We had heard through the "scuttlebutt" (ships' rumor mill) that 100 new crew members would be boarding in LA to take their places. Guess our answer to NCL's question: "Would you sail on an NCL ship again, and will you recommend it to a friend?" Read Less
Sail Date: June 2005
I cannot believe a cruise line like NCL would actually book cruises on a ship that was not in proper working order or staffed with a well-trained crew. I think the only reason they did so was due to the advanced publicity they received ... Read More
I cannot believe a cruise line like NCL would actually book cruises on a ship that was not in proper working order or staffed with a well-trained crew. I think the only reason they did so was due to the advanced publicity they received from the Regis and Kelly Show. There were many minor problems too numerous to list in great detail but here are several that seem to stand out. The restaurants ran out of menu items on first day of the cruise and several other items in the days that followed. The food service in dining rooms was extremely slow and seemed rather disorganized. They seemed to be trying several different procedures to improve the service and even rearranged tables but things never seemed to be working as they should. Several times my food was not prepared as ordered and one time it was actually cold - not lukewarm or room temperature - cold. The food in the buffet was good. The bakery was especially tasty. Unfortunately you always had to go looking for silverware if you were lucky enough to find a table that was cleaned off. Personnel working in the buffet seemed very understaffed and overwhelmed. Supervisors walked around seemingly taking down notes but no improvements could be noticed. One of the ice cream machines broke the first day of the cruise and remained that way for the remainder of the cruise. Frequently the ice machine and ice tea and juice dispensers were not working. Mechanically there were also problems. There were many contractors on board still working on problems and installations. The air conditioning went out for almost a day and a half. Sometimes there was no cold water, other times there was no hot water. The spa in the back deck of the ship never was operational. There was also a terrible smell in the back by the main restaurants which we were told came from a downdraft from the smoke stacks. There was no navigational information available on the room television and we were told it was not operational yet. Housekeeping was the worst I have ever experienced on a cruise. Housekeepers in the walkways by the cabin were very noisy and made it difficult to get to sleep and often woke us up early in the morning. The rooms were very dusty and the balcony window was filthy and was never touched during the entire two weeks. Coffee pots were not cleaned regularly and supplies were not replaced until we requested them. The entertainment was good with the exception of the impersonator who almost walked off in the middle of her performance due to technical problems. The sketch artist in the main area was a great touch. The ship itself seemed to be rather plain compared to others we have been on. It is obviously designed to be used where much of the time on the cruise is to be spent in port which is what will be the case in Hawaii. The rooms were very small. We had a balcony room and the two of us could not get around without bumping into each other. The fitness center was the best we have seen on a ship. Many treadmills and cycles with individual televisions and ample room for other fitness equipment. In general crew members were pleasant and seemed to be trying to do the best they could. One got the feeling that they were on a "shake down" cruise. Obviously management knew there were problems since almost every announcement ended with "We appreciate your patience" or "We ask for your patience". My question is "Why didn't NCL do something to accommodate passengers for the many inconveniences they endured?" If this were a fine hotel they would have either refunded the purchase price or given something towards any future visits. NCL did neither. Not only would I not recommend NCL but I feel they should be ashamed for their lack of consideration of passengers. The only thing worse than poor customer service is none at all. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2005
My husband and I sailed the FIRST true cruise through the Panama Canal on June 25th. We weren't the "Regis and Kelly" show guests nor did we receive a "special invitation" for a 2-night preview. We were full-fare ... Read More
My husband and I sailed the FIRST true cruise through the Panama Canal on June 25th. We weren't the "Regis and Kelly" show guests nor did we receive a "special invitation" for a 2-night preview. We were full-fare paying passengers. Embarkation.. not a problem. I wouldn't give it a 6, but personnel was friendly and made it less stressful. This was our sixth cruise and we've had it worse. The ship itself as far as appearance goes is very impressive, once inside. What was suppose to be a memorable trip for us, especially since we've been dreaming of cruising the Panama Canal for sometime, turned into 12 days of regrets. Once in the stateroom, we discovered traces of previous guests. They were given to a crew member that happened to be walking by because it was total chaos on that ship at that time. Our neighbors discovered dirty underwear in a drawer along with a disgusting bowel movement in their toilet. After numerous calls for housekeeping, they used the restroom in the public areas. The dirty underwear were never picked up so they were tossed by the elevator hoping some crew member walking by would do their job. We heard so many similar complaints from other passengers. Aside from the housekeeping, the a/c was uncontrollable or they didn't know what the heck they were doing. Taking it to the other end, we were informed that an elderly couple down the hall from us had no power in their room for a day. That makes everything else seem trivial. Our safe malfunctioned on the 2nd day. After numerous crew members were called in to check it out, ship security finally handled the situation. It took him almost four hours to rectify because orders on what to do had to come from Miami. The safe had to eventually be drilled out and replaced. There were numerous complaints on safes, as well. Other passengers that had the same problem were told they could not replace their safe and they would be able to use one obtained from their office. A little inconvenient, isn't it when one has to go down to reception to get something from the safe! The Freestyle iTV was not operational. There was no navigational system available on TV to inform us of our location. Overall, the cabins are very small with only a few drawers and a very tiny closet. The bathroom is also tiny. I'm a small person and I found it difficult to move around in it. The restaurants...Our first day, we went to the Cadillac Diner, waited about 10 minutes for a seat and an hour and a half for our meal. That was very disappointing. We didn't go back there until the last full day of our cruise, hoping that service had improved. What a joke. We were seated right away but waited AGAIN an hour and a half for our meal. Well, at least my meal. I ordered a hamburger (well done) and when it was brought to me, was still pink and soggy in the middle. What could they have done in an hour and half !?!?!?! My husband had been served 20 minutes prior to my meal being served and this just ruined the entire meal for both of us. Service...what does it say when the maitre D' is clearing tables while his crew members are standing around talking ? Sounds like bad management to me, and not at this level. It goes up to the top. Someone up there that should be overseeing this entire operation isn't doing HIS job. We went to the Taste of Italy on our last night and that was a disappointment, not to mention a pain in the belly. I consumed bad food that had me wanting to be sucked up by that vacuum line in the toilets. I was too sick to move and if I moved I felt even worse. We usually ate at the Aloha Cafe because we didn't feel that we should have to pay for the specialty restaurants but this was at times unbearable too. There were gas fumes that overcame the rear of the back of the ship. We heard passengers complaining that the fumes went all the way down to their cabins on deck 5. The Aloha Cafe is on deck 11. That is totally unacceptable. The other complaint is that the some of the food in the Aloha Cafe was not labeled. My husband has an allergy to shellfish and almost served himself fettucine but when he asked what the sauce contained, he was told that it was a white sauce with some sort of shellfish. That would have been tragic had he not asked. They had one working ice cream machine, which was a joke. The coffee machines were another joke. They were either down or needed coffee. Once I was told to go to the other side of the ship if I wanted coffee. That was the only working coffee machine at the time. After trying other restaurants, we finally decided just to bear it and eat at the Aloha Cafe. The wait was too long in the main dining rooms and at times the food was just mediocre. Not what one would expect from a main dining room. The shore excursions were almost sold out when we went down to book on our first day. We ended up with the leftovers that no one else wanted. I guess we should have booked on-line but without knowing more about the excursions, one is hesitant. Our stop in Roatan could have been skipped and wouldn't have mattered. Costa Rica on both sides was ok. The Panama Canal is what were mainly interested in and that was something that I'll never forget. Our stop in Cabo San Lucas was VERY short. By the time the tenders got the last of passengers on land, they had 2 hours to run around and be back to make NCL deadline. This was one stop that most of the passengers were very upset about. I found the tenders to be extremely dangerous in the loading and unloading. I don't believe NCL was prepared. The spa....the massage that I booked was great, however, when entering the ladies changing room I found a male crew member that was in there (possibly cleaning?). There was a female crew member fixing her hair and neither one of them batted on eye when I walked in. Is this procedure? Well, maybe I expected too much from NCL. Needless to say, I didn't want to interrupt their routine so I just walked out. My husband, on the other hand, had to go to our stateroom to shower after getting his massage. He asked for soap and towels because the men's changing room had none. Needless to say, he waited quite a while and ended up walking out in a an oil-covered body. What a sight !! The entertainment...The guests entertainers were great, especially pianist, Juan Pablo. NCL entertainers were just mediocre. We attended 2 of the 3 shows they performed and found them to be lacking something. I understand this is a very young crew and they're just getting started, so perhaps quite a few years down the line there will be an improvement. However, they do get an "A" for effort. The Captain and other heads of departments appeared before the passengers in what was called "Captains Profile". This happened just a few days before the end of the cruise. The was a short question and answer session where most of these complaints were voiced. The a/c dilemma, we were told, was "being worked on" and the gas fume dilemma was also "being worked on". Other complaints were answered by merely saying that this was a new crew and everyone was doing their best. There were still many kinks to work out and eventually it would happen. We have traveled other cruise lines before and I can honestly say that I would take Carnival any day over NCL. It was pointed out by the hotel director, Scott Hamby, that having an ALL AMERICAN crew had it's advantages and one of them is not having a language barrier. Well, that may be so but we found that even with a language barrier on other lines, the service received was phenomenal. Most of the crew on this ship has to be in the 20-25 yr old category. This is a very young crew and most of them don't know what real work is about. We heard their disenchantment with NCL all through the cruise on many of the decks. Many of these kids couldn't wait to get off the ship. Many of them stated they were in it just long enough to pay off their college bills. These aren't crew members that want to be committed to doing this for the long haul and somewhere along the line work ethics becomes a problem. That was very evident on this ship. Many of these kids did not want to work. They wanted to go back to their hometown or back to their Mom and Dad. I also have to recognize the few that really worked their hineys off. They earned their fair share and their co-worker's share as well. We weren't all as fortunate as the first reviewer. He received an invitation for a 2-night preview, had the pleasure of enjoying two deck parties. One with a mechanical bull and the other with a mechanical surfboard. He was obviously treated better. NCL was more attentive with him than they were with us. We were never treated with such a show. Upon disembarking, he also received a commemorative inaugural gift. Well, that was very generous of NCL. One would think that the the passengers that had been the true "inaugural" passengers, that paid the price with both money and aggravation, that had made the first "true" cruise to their destination would be the ones to receive such a gift. Once again, NCL has shown their true colors. For those of you that are considering traveling NCL on this ship, read the reviews and reconsider. Remember, "they're still working on it" !!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
PRIDE OF AMERICA By Ernie Roller 2-Night Preview Cruise Los Angeles / San Diego / Los Angeles Departed: July 8, 2005 Returned: July 10, 2005 Cabin: 9138 Category BD (Oceanview with Balcony) Over 200 Pictures!!: ... Read More
PRIDE OF AMERICA By Ernie Roller 2-Night Preview Cruise Los Angeles / San Diego / Los Angeles Departed: July 8, 2005 Returned: July 10, 2005 Cabin: 9138 Category BD (Oceanview with Balcony) Over 200 Pictures!!: When I received my invitation for this 2-night preview cruise for travel industry and media professionals, I wasn't initially excited. I had seen pictures of PRIDE OF AMERICA online and frankly I wasn't very impressed. Her exterior sported a stubby bow and I wasn't sure about the stars & stripes "hull art". The interior pictures unfortunately did nothing to elevate my opinion of the ship. I'm ecstatic to proclaim my initial observations were way off base. I absolutely loved PRIDE OF AMERICA and I think she is probably the most unique new ship to come off the blocks in quite some time. PRIDE OF AMERICA (POA) is in fact a one-off design. She will never have a sister ship like so many newbuilds today that are number 6 or 7 in an ever growing series. This fact alone makes POA something rather special. I also leaned that first impressions are not always correct and not every ship photographs well. I took over 200 photographs of POA (see link above) and I must say they don't do justice to the ship. She is a ship that needs to be experienced in person. Embarkation: Things got off to a rough start at the pier. Computers were down and check-in took 1 ½ hours. NCL America did provide a little entertainment to keep spirits up. There was a comedian on stilts dressed up as Uncle Sam trying to keep us all entertained. The entire pier was dressed up with NCL America flags and banners and it looked great. Were the computers initially working things would have gone much smoother. Check-in itself was the usual process. ID's were checked, credit cards swiped, deck plans and ship information handed out, and a picture taken that is embedded in the magnetic strip of your cruise card. The obligatory embarkation picture was taken, followed by a security screening, then on to the ship. Once onboard your cruise card was swiped and several staff members welcomed you onboard. You were on your own to find your cabin which is fine by me. Cabins: Many cabins were not yet ready, which was surprising considering it was almost 3 p.m. I had heard disembarkation from the previous cruise was delayed, but this was never confirmed. I did go inside my cabin to drop off luggage and have a quick look around. It seemed about half way made-up and I figured the rest would be completed later. There is a nifty dial outside the cabin with a few different settings. You can set the dial to "Welcome," "Make-up Cabin," Do not Disturb," etc. This is a great idea since Freestyle Cruising means you are not on a set schedule. Your cabin steward/stewardess requires a little help to know what your requirements are at any given time, and the dial achieves just that. My category BD standard balcony cabin was small by industry standards, at approximately 178 sq feet according to the NCL brochure and I believe that includes the balcony area. Even so, it was well laid out and attractive with Hawaiian themed carpet, wood veneer on the shelves and closets, and comfy white duvets. Closet space is very limited even for two people, so don't plan on bringing a lot of excess clothes. Formal nights are not required on NCL America and this is a good thing considering the limited closet space. Cabin amenities include a coffee maker with coffee, ice and glasses, an interactive TV (called Freestyle iTV which was not yet operational), safe, and refrigerator. The bathroom was also on the small side including the shower stall. There was an amenity kit that included lotion, a shoe shine, and shower cap. Soap, shower gel, and conditioner are provided in dispensers in the shower and above the sink. One side of the mirror opens for additional shelves, but space is still pretty tight. The perpetual "hugging shower curtain" is eliminated by having a shower curtain with several steel rods in it that keep it hanging straight. Water pressure and temperature were fine. The balcony was average size (which means it's not too large), and included a table and two chairs of good quality. Definitely better than the plastic resin that many mass-market cruise lines use. One thing missing in the cabin were master light switches over the bed, and robes. To turn off the main cabin lights you had to get up and go to the switch by the cabin entrance. Suites were absolutely gorgeous and very well appointed. Be sure to check out the pics! Each one had unique dEcor so they were not cookie cutter in design or shape. If you can afford one, go for it. They were some of the nicest and unusual suites I have seen on any ship. A very pleasant surprise were the inside cabins. I think they were about the nicest inside cabins I have seen on any ship. They actually seemed larger than the balcony cabins because of their layout. I liked the fact there were two desks/dressing tables as opposed to only one in the outside and balcony cabins. POA is one ship I would not mind booking an inside cabin on. Outside cabins had the same setup and layout as the standard balcony cabins. If you can snag one, go for the category CC on Deck 7. These eight cabins have huge floor to ceiling windows and are located directly midship. I would almost prefer one of these over a balcony cabin ... almost! One thing worth mentioning is the cabin corridors. They are probably the widest and most attractive I've seen on any ship (including QM2). The corridors have wonderful indirect lighting, subtle Hawaiian music is played, and the carpet is either flower or stars pattern. There is artwork along all the corridors, and one side is a wood veneer which gives them a very welcoming and soft touch. Bravo to NCL for creating corridors that don't look like they belong in a hospital. Staff/Crew: I was more than a little curious about an all-American crew working on a new cruise ship. American's are generally not used to working 7-day weeks with 12 + hour days. I wasn't sure if the service would suffer, and I think for the most part it didn't. The American crew was generally the friendliest I have come across in some 60 cruises. They were young, very attractive, energetic and eager to please. Each one had a story and they were more than willing to share it if you were willing to listen. Personally I greatly enjoyed hearing about their experiences. I know not everyone will appreciate the informality of the crew, but I found it charming. NCL America had some major difficulties with the initial crews on PRIDE OF ALOHA. As many of you may recall, there were reports of massive crew turnover and walk-outs during the initial inaugural period. The two major issues NCL had to overcome were expectations and training. All crew for NCL America now attend the most extensive crew training program in the entire industry. The facility is located in Piney Point Maryland and every crew/staff member spends several weeks there before joining the ship. Not only do they learn the basics about shipboard life and what is expected of them, they discover if shipboard is something they desire. NCL creates an environment at Piney Point that is very similar to what the crew experience onboard ship. The turnover at Piney Point is high, but those that do graduate are the best in their class and more importantly, truly want to be there. This was certainly apparent on PRIDE OF AMERICA based on my personal experience. Service in some areas was a bit slow, but this could be expected on any new ship regardless of crew nationality. Unfortunately there was one exception, and that is cabin housekeeping. At first I thought the problem was limited to my cabin and section, but after chatting with several passengers the problem seemed to be widespread to all decks and cabin types. I've never had such a filthy cabin. Greasy hand prints on all the mirrors; hair and crumbs in cabin drawers; dirty faucets, dirty countertops and dispensers; and even my toilette was never cleaned. In fact there were left over remnants from the previous occupants. I actually used public toilettes the first night onboard as they were spotless (as was the rest of the ship). My bed was never turned down (and never had a bedspread), carpets never vacuumed, the safe was locked shut, the refrigerator was filthy, and even the glasses didn't look clean. I can only hope the bed sheets were laundered. Tissues in the bathroom were never provided, but toilette paper was. I didn't say anything the first night as when I first entered the cabin after embarking I figured it wasn't finished being cleaned. I enjoyed the evening (way too much to drink!) and when I returned the only thing in the cabin that changed was some towels were supplied in the bathroom. Nothing else! The next morning I got up and went down to the Reception Desk. I advised of the unacceptable cabin condition and that I couldn't even use the toilette. She wrote my cabin number down on a long list and ensured it would be taken care of. A couple hours later I returned to the cabin and it was somewhat serviced. The greasy hand prints were still everywhere but new towels were added and the toilette was cleaned. The sink was still dirty and no tissues were supplied. The bed being made was a joke ... she simply threw the duvet back on the bed and didn't even bother to rearrange the pillows. A bedspread would have been nice. Nothing else was cleaned. Had I been in this cabin for a week I would have had a chat with the Chief Housekeeper and also had all room steward gratuities removed. I don't think I've ever stayed in a hotel or cruise ship where the housekeeping service was so poor. Unfortunately others had similar problems, but mine seemed to be the most extreme. I also spoke to other passengers who had wonderful cabin service. Spotless cabins, bedspreads, turn-down service, etc. Basically what you would expect. I hope this is a problem that NCL America gets under control, and soon. Other than the cabin, the rest of the ship was extremely clean and you always saw crew polishing, vacuuming, and keeping things tidy. Dining: The dining choices on POA are numerous. There is really something for everyone. Not all venues are free, but even if you didn't spend an additional dime on food you would have a vast array of choices. I had absolutely no complaints about food. One night I ate with a large group (12 of us I believe) in the Liberty Restaurant, and the second night I had wonderful sushi in "East Meets West" with another large group. So what is free and what isn't? Here's the skinny. Free: Skyline Restaurant; Liberty Restaurant; Aloha Cafe; Key West Grill; Cadillac Diner (except milkshakes); Little Italy. Cover Charge: East Meets West; Jefferson's Bistro; Lazy J Texas Steakhouse Something unique being implemented on all NCL ships and currently onboard POA and NORWEGIAN SPIRIT are flat panel dining availability screens. They are located all over the ship in most public areas. I was initially skeptical of these screens, but they are a great feature. NCL actually modeled them after similar software used for ski lift wait times at major ski resorts. These flat panels list each restaurant (free and cover charge) along with the current wait time at each venue. The color will change from green (empty), to yellow (filling up), to red (full, wait involved). The system is linked to every restaurant onboard so any maitre d' at any restaurant can reserve a time for you at any other restaurant. It's really a cool system and I believe it can also be viewed on your cabin TV once the iTV interactive system is up and running. If your restaurant choice is full and you don't want to switch to another dining venue, you are given a pager so you can enjoy yourself in any one of the lounges until your pager goes off. Lounges / Activities / Entertainment: POA has a wonderful assortment of lounges, entertainment, and activities. Just like the dining arrangements, there was something for everyone. There are whimsical lounges such as the Mardi Gras nightclub. Elegant and eclectic areas like the Lanai Bar, and sophisticated night spots such as the Napa Wine Bar. Pink's Piano Bar and the Gold Rush Saloon are also festive choices. There are plenty of quiet areas as well, with John Adams Coffee Bar and the SS America Library ranking as top choices. The SS America Library deserves special mention. This library is huge and beautifully decorated. It's themed after the liner S/S AMERICA and includes artifacts from this beautiful ship as well as a gorgeous painting of the ship and a very detailed model. The only library that comes close at sea is onboard the QM2 and QE2. Great job NCL! Unfortunately I didn't attend either of the production shows. This is unusual for me as I tend to enjoy them, but I was too busy enjoying myself with new found friends to give them a second thought. Both shows received raves from passengers who saw them and hopefully I'll get a second chance as I plan to book POA for a 7-day cruise later this year. NCL hosted amazing deck parties both nights, and something I've never done before was ride a mechanical bull! Yes, one was set up right on deck. The second night they removed the "bull" and set up a mechanical surf board instead. It was great, but I'm not certain if this is a permanent activity or just something special for these industry cruises? The Santa Fe spa is quite lovely and offers very soothing Southwestern decor. The treatment rooms looked very comfortable and there is a relaxation area as well. There are separate men's and women's changing rooms along with single sex saunas, steam rooms, and showers located inside the changing rooms. A nice touch is the "star lit" ceiling in the steam and sauna that changes colors creating a unique atmosphere. I believe there will be no charge to use the steam rooms and sauna. The workout area is large and well equipped, and there are individual flat screen panels above each cardio machine which is a nice touch. Another unique feature onboard POA is the Diamond Head Auditorium. This is without a doubt the most extensive meeting area onboard any ship. While I would have liked to see an observation lounge in this spot, it does work very well as a circular meeting space. NCL America has high hopes of attracting extensive meeting and incentive groups. There is the added incentive for US corporations to book POA and her running mate in Hawaii for added the tax benefit. As these ships are registered in the United States, US corporations can use the meetings as a tax write-off. This is simply not possible on foreign flagged vessels. I hope the Diamond Head Auditorium becomes a multi-use facility, and as the ship becomes broken in maybe a few of the ship's activities can be scheduled up there. Pools / Decks: Swimming pools are one area that could be improved upon. The pools are not the most attractive (compared to other ships) and are a bit small. The main pool area (South Beach Pool) is simply too cluttered. The Ocean Drive Bar is an excellent and large pool bar, but the rest of the area is lacking. The aft Oasis Pool is one of the smallest pools I've seen on a ship, but it's a very attractive area and I imagine it will be much quieter than the midship pools. Be sure to check out the adorable oversized shower up on Deck 14. It's one of the many whimsical features that make POA a stand-out. There is plenty of open deck space and most of it is covered with a blue plastic surface. I would have rather seen teak but that is rare these days, especially on mainstream ships. There is also a full wrap-around Promenade Deck on Deck 6. It's wide but unfortunately chairs are few and far between. Special mention goes to the Sports Deck on Deck 14. It's huge and will prove very popular to sports fanatics. It's also located out of the way as not to disturb the rest of the passengers. The good and not so good: Good: cabin decor; overall ship decor and detail; Aloha Cafe outdoor buffet stations; Liberty Restaurant; American crew; restaurant choices; inside cabins; the amazing suites; onboard artwork; the dining availability panels; food and overall service; spacious corridors; ship's overall atmosphere. Not so good: cabin housekeeping is poor; small pools, cluttered decks; minimal closet space; slow embarkation; inaccessibility to Santa Fe Spa and gym. Disembarkation: A short note about disembarkation. Since PRIDE OF AMERICA is a US flagged ship and calls at no foreign ports, there is no need for passengers to fill out any forms or clear US Customs and Immigration. This means that very shortly after the ships docks, you are free to go. I saw people disembarking as early as 7:20 a.m., and I disembarked at 8:15 a.m. and easily made a 9:30 a.m. flight out of LAX. NCL America provided each of us with a commemorative inaugural gift that will make a wonderful addition to my ship collection. It's an American flag folded into a triangle and framed in a wood and glass case. There is a plaque that reads "PRIDE OF AMERICA Inaugural Season 2005" on the outside and there are hooks on the back for hanging. It's one of the nicest inaugural gifts I have come across. It was a bit awkward to carry on the plane, but there was no way I was leaving that behind! As we walked off the POA, many of the staff and crew from POA and the NCL Miami office were standing on both sides of the Promenade Deck clapping and cheering as we disembarked. It was a thoughtful and appreciated gesture, not to mention memorable and unique. I think it's something they should do after every cruise as it really left a lasting impression and made you feel valued by NCL. What's next for NCL and some tidbits: * Look for a new NCL website coming in early 2006. It will encompass a new interactive booking engine for both travel agents and consumers. * Freestyle will be taken to the next level. Part of this will be the ability to pre-book all restaurant reservations before you leave home on the new website. Basically you will be able to plan your entire dining week in advance. Also incorporated will be the ability to pre-book all your spa treatments and of course shore excursions. The other aspects of how Freestyle will evolve are in the works, but expect innovation. * Latitudes, the NCL past passenger club is getting revamped. Currently all past passengers receive the same recognition regardless of how many NCL cruise you have taken. Beginning this Fall, Latitudes will have different benefit levels based not only on how many times you sail, but how much you spend as well. Those passengers that consistently book suites will receive higher recognition. * With the addition of NORWEGIAN JEWEL, PRIDE OF HAWAII, and two additional "Star Class" ships, NCL will have the youngest fleet in the industry. In 2006 NCL is actually accounting for half of all new built tonnage in the N. American cruise industry. * A new class of ship is currently in development. It will follow the two unnamed "Star Class" ships already on order. Expect innovation and many surprise features. * All the older NCL tonnage will be phased out of the fleet by 2010 at the latest. This includes DREAM, WIND, MAJESTY, and CROWN. * Keep an eye out for some interesting itineraries for PRIDE OF HAWAII. Prior to her year round 7-day Hawaii cruising, she will embark on a few trans-Pacific itineraries between the West Coast and Hawaii. Some interesting ports will be included (Hawaii and the mainland) and there is no need to stop at a foreign port since she will be US registered. Her fast 25 knot speed will also make the crossing to Hawaii in a shorter time. * None of the NCL America ships are permitted to sail in Alaska or the Caribbean. This was a last minute mandate lobbied by some of NCL competitors. Interesting. * The SS UNITED STATES, currently laid up in Philadelphia and owned by NCL has not been forgotten. I was able to personally question NCL executive Andy Stuart (who BTW is a very dynamic speaker and charming man) about her future. He informed me NCL had created a team to determine the feasibility of bringing the SSUS back to service. Results were very positive and he even spoke of her excellent hull condition. Unfortunately when POA encountered her troubles at the shipyard in Germany, the team switched their objective from the SSUS to getting POA into service. I truly feel the SSUS has a good possibility of being brought back to service after speaking with Mr. Stuart. He seemed to appreciate the value and recognition a ship like the SSUS could bring NCL America. Stay tuned! * Following the 2-night cruise I enjoyed, the crew of POA were getting a short cruise of their own. Andy Stuart and the rest of the NCL management team onboard (including POA Officers) were switching roles and becoming waiters, bartenders and entertainers for the crew onboard POA. Meanwhile the crew becomes passengers and can enjoy the hospitality of their superiors on an overnight cruise up to San Francisco. A massive deck party was planned. What better way to show employee appreciation and sustain excellent morale as well? This gesture really helped earn my respect for NCL as a caring company. * Look for NCL to split from parent company Star Cruises later this year and become public on the NY Stock Exchange. What happens after that is anybody's guess. The Final Word: In a nutshell, I loved PRIDE OF AMERICA and have found a new appreciation for NCL. To be honest, NCL was fairly low on my personal scale up until now. With PRIDE OF AMERICA and the rest of the new ships NCL is building, I've discovered what an innovative company NCL has become. They are not perfect (and no cruise line is), but I think they have a bright future and they certainly have earned my support and new found respect. I wish them great success! Any questions or comments? Please email me at: Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2005
We just returned from the 11-day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii. As expected, the new ship is well-groomed, and the employees were very enthusiastic to please. The cruise's own production shows were excellent. Among the guest ... Read More
We just returned from the 11-day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii. As expected, the new ship is well-groomed, and the employees were very enthusiastic to please. The cruise's own production shows were excellent. Among the guest entertainers, Scott Alexander (magician and comedian) was fantastic. The kids club activities were well thought out, and the employees there won kids heart. Our son was particularly impressed with Queen Jennine and HighFive Heather. We have cruised Princess and Royal Caribbean's before, but this was our first NCL experience. We liked the NCL "FreeStyle cruise" feature. The major disappointment was the choice of vegetarian food. The choices were very limited, and the food was not clearly marked being vegetarian. In the Aloha cafe (buffet), throughout the cruise every single soup had meat in it, and the servers did not always know about it. I was fortunate to have found a great chef Keegun Reynolds at the Aloha Cafe, who cooked meals specifically for me almost everyday. If it was not for his personal attention, the cruise would have been miserable from the food perspective for me. If you are NOT vegetarian, I would recommend this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
I was on the POAm SF to Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip! The ship is beautiful with a lot of attention to detail. This was my first cruise, so I can only compare this to a land vacation. The room was small, but after reading the posts ... Read More
I was on the POAm SF to Hawaii. We had a wonderful trip! The ship is beautiful with a lot of attention to detail. This was my first cruise, so I can only compare this to a land vacation. The room was small, but after reading the posts here, I was pleasantly surprised. It is nicely done - would've liked a larger balcony. We were on the 10th floor and if I were doing it again, I would not choose that floor because the supports for the pool deck block your panoramic view. It was still very nice to sit out and enjoy the ride. The bed was comfy - I slept like a baby. The service was fine. We don't require a lot of attention. We always had our room done before noon on our sea days, and by the time we returned on port days. Beds were turned down while we were at supper. We always had ice and tp. Only had a towel animal one night, but no biggie. The restaurants were beautiful and the food was fine. Not great, but fine. By the end of 10 days I was ready for some spice. I'm sure they cannot spice it up too much due to restrictive diets and such. We ate in all of the restaurants except Lazy J. Jefferson's Bistro was good and very romantic. The hot spinach salad was very good, and my husband's seabass was excellent. My surfnturf was fair. I didn't eat the steak. The Tappanyaki was good. We really liked the stir fried rice with a little garlic. Skip the Italian. That was the worst meal I had. All of the soups I had on board were very good. I couldn't eat the scrambled eggs at breakfast, they didn't taste fully cooked, but you can get omelettes in the main dining room or there is plenty to choose from on the buffet. If you like David Schwimmer (Ross from friends), you will like the cruise director. My husband found him annoying, but he was fine with me. The Hollywood Theater is nice, but COLD! The Mardis Gras nightclub is HOT. We still had fun. The Tahiti dancers were good. W.T. Greet was good in the piano bar, but I think he is coming back to Dallas. The 1st comic was good, the 2nd we left. We enjoyed massages, but felt the price was misleading. They add a 15% service charge, but it is not a tip. We loved freestyle and freestyle disembarkation. Embarking wasn't bad. We did have a wait in a room without AC, but it wasn't too long. We felt all the employees did a good job overall. We had our worst service the last night. Maybe that was why. We met some homesick kids. A little gal from TX gave me a huge hug when she found out we were from her home state. The ports are awesome. We rented cars on each island and could do what we wanted. On Hilo went to Volcano Nat. Park, Waipaio Valley Lookout, a beach park, and Akaka Falls and hiked around. Be sure to take the Onomea scenic road - about 4miles. Had a great lunch at What's shakin. It rained a lot. At Kona, we went to Place of Refuge (cool) and snorkeled right beside it. Saw turtles and lots of fish and coral. Rocky entry, but fairly calm for fraidy cats like me. Had an awesome lunch at the Coffee Shack - with a great view of Kealakua Bay. We then went to Kahaluu Beach Park to snorkel. It was dirty (couldn't see anything) and rough. Too rough for me. Sailing past the volcano at night was a highlight!On Maui we drove over to Kapalua Beach and snorkeled. Saw a MOOrish Idol (like a angelfish). This was nice. Then we went to Kaanapali Beach and ate at the Hula Grill. Another good choice. Wandered around and headed south to Kihou (SP?) beach park to watch the sunset. Kauai was my absolute favorite!!! We went north, stopped at the Lighthouse and saw spinner dolphins on one side and a seal on the rocks on the other. Not to mention birds and the most incredible view (all of the views on Kauai are). Then we drove to the end of the road to Kee Beach on the Napali coast. We changed to swimsuits (nasty bathroom), but the snorkeling was awesome!! Saw lots of fish, swam in a school with lots of big ones. I never knew there were so many colorful fish. The snorkeling here is great for chickens,, because the reef breaks the waves before they get to you. We stopped at the Princeville Resort on the way back because I have been wanting to go there. I can't wait, the place is gorgeous!! Didn't have lunch, because there was so much to do. I didn't like Honolulu. Dallas by the sea. The East shore was nice. The trip home on the red eye was a pain, but I'd do it again. I loved Hawaii and the ship. My biggest complaint was the food got old after 10 days. I might not have noticed it if I hadn't eaten the great food I did off the ship! I am glad we had 5 days at sea, because I'm Type A and want to see everything and the port days were exhausting. My husband says he drove 500 miles on a 400 mile island (not really). It's a great way to taste the islands to decide where you want to go back and stay. Enjoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
A subjective, honest review from a "SEAGULL". I want to begin by saying that I had the most wonderful cruising experience on this ship, although all was not perfect. We booked this ship as an alternative to flying to the ... Read More
A subjective, honest review from a "SEAGULL". I want to begin by saying that I had the most wonderful cruising experience on this ship, although all was not perfect. We booked this ship as an alternative to flying to the islands on our own, and staying in hotels. This is my first quasi-review I have ever written, and I hope the flow works out. Embarkation: At first glance, it has the appearance of a total zoo, but still kind of organized. There was a security line that wrapped out the doors, down to the next pier. People were standing and waiting for a while to get through security. I didn't see anyone complaining though. If you aren't one of those that MUST hit the buffet as soon as you board, do yourself a favor and come later than sooner, as I will from now on. I had booked a 2 night pre-stay, and ended up in the hospital the first day I arrived in HNL, until just before POAM's check in time, so I was wheel-chaired straight past those lines (cleared security, of course) by an NCL rep, to the Latitudes check-in, then directly to my room. What awesome service! Before I got to the room, however, there was an incident. As we were about to pass the photographer, I asked the NCL girl to not stop for a photo, as I did not want to have a picture taken of me while I was being wheeled, and still a little sickly looking. She complied and totally understood, of course, but the photographer YELLED at her for doing this for me. He was furious in front of all the other guests about how "he needs to deal with, and photograph each guest" and "blah blah blah". Not only was I embarrassed, but now ALL ATTENTION WAS UPON US! Well, I got to my room and I was very, very upset over this. I did not find this to be conducive to a "vacation embarkation" at all. Hand Sanitation: Ok, I had an issue here. There are hand sanitizing stations located all around the ship very conveniently. However, it was not enforced at all. I had been on NCL Sun before, and they were always chasing you down with wet naps and gel. Why not here? We used the heck out of them on this boat, but we did not see another single soul use them besides us. I just don't see why people, and NCL America, didn't see the importance of this. Maybe there is a rule that exempts them from this in Hawaii? Room: I had originally planned on booking a suite the next size up from ours, but decided upon having lots of extra money to spend instead. We had room on the 11th floor, a BA Cat. which was convenient for the location, and was on the port side. There was a connecting door to another BA category room next door, which DID turn into a problem later on. The decor was bright and cheery, with a bit of an ultra-contemporary twist. I liked it. It was of course small.....but what do you want? The balcony was a nice size for us, and had two chairs and an end table. The chairs were of the sling variety with arms. Very comfy. We spent a lot of time out there, being we are smokers, and cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke inside a building (none-the-less ruining a brand new ship with the smell). Go figure. All in all, I was quite satisfied with the room, but I would upgrade next time for sure. We spent hardly any time or money shopping. We were into all the nature here. I snuck a peek next door into a penthouse, and envied all the free space. We met our cabin steward, Norma, immediately after we got to the room. She was very friendly, and showed us around our room. I asked her for an egg-crate mattress topper and extra pillows. She installed them within 5 minutes! I found the bed to be firm, but most will love it. Actually, every night before turndown, I left her a note with any requests I had, words of appreciation and thanks, and a tip. Needless to say, I HAD NO ISSUES whatsoever with her, or any other crew member. She was so sweet, and saw to all our needs quickly and efficiently. Our room was consistently spotless, and I am VERY PICKY. If you want a good steward, TIP. These are Americans, money talks. Noise: By the end of the cruise, I had come to the conclusion that there is no place on the ship to enjoy a FULL NIGHT'S SLEEP. You are constantly being woken up by those obnoxious self closing doors to the cabins. They could have made the self closing system a much slower and gentler variety. I swear, people didn't even TRY to be considerate of others. All you hear are these loud thuds all night, and all day long. Kids (AND ADULTS!) running up and down the hallways, having conversation at 100 decibels above normal. We called down to the reception desk and politely asked if they could maybe make a friendly announcement to all the passengers, sometime during the day, asking to pay better attention to noise in the hallways and slamming doors. This was all to no avail. They declined our request. It seemed to be no problem to have a guest paged at any time of day or night though. Also, the people in the room next door (adjoining), were unbelievably loud at times. The adjoining room doors themselves are paper thin, and you can literally hear the person next door speaking (in normal tone) while we were in bed trying to sleep. Food: Well, the Aloha Cafe was neither above nor below our expectations. All the usual for breakfast (confirmed runny eggs) and lunch, with a theme night on occasion for dinner. We particularly liked the Mexican night. The breads were notably fresh and good with a nice selection. Fruits were ripe with a good selection. Plenty of window seats too, we always had one. The decor was better than expected, and we LOVED the separate kids buffet area filled with kids stuff. Even mini tables and chairs. So cute! Great idea. The Cadillac Diner was a pleasant surprise, serving blue plate kind of foods. We ate Cheeseburgers there 3 times. Each time the burgers were thick, juicy and cooked nice. They ALWAYS forgot the pickle though. This place was usually empty during off hours, and service was at least consistent. We ordered breakfast there once while in Kona, the bagel was warmed instead of toasted with no butter, and they served us waffles, which were good, but with no butter as well. That's no big deal at all, but you can't help thinking "hello McFly"! There was NO cover charge for this restaurant, however we did tip according to what the bill should have been had we paid. Only fair. The Lazy J Steakhouse was by far our favorite. The service was PHENOMENAL!!!! The food was PERFECT every time we ate there. We had Lori and Allie as our wait-staff, and they are a truly remarkable, entertaining, and caring team. We ate the Rib-eye steaks and Filet Mignon steaks when we went (on separate occasions). The creamed spinach was delicious. Lori noticed my affection for it and kept it coming! I never once waited for a drink refill. We were always invited to linger, and never felt rushed or pushed. There is so much good to say here.....see for yourself, and make sure you request them in advance. We got lucky and had them twice. I never had so many laughs during dinner. We love the FREESTYLE concept. However, we had LOTS of trouble trying to get into the other specialty restaurants, so these 3 venues are all we could sample. I am pretty disappointed that people run onto the ship the first day, and plan out all their meals right away, not leaving any room for anyone else to FREESTYLE IT. Isn't that the point!? The crew at East Meets West and Shabu Shabu were completely unwavering with the firm NO's we got when trying to come in to eat.....and we only even tried when it was LATE! Like 9:30-10:00! They do indeed warn you that they fill quickly, so it's our fault. Very good food, I guess. The Italian restaurant was just as popular. Jefferson's Bistro looked really nice and cozy, although we avoided it due to the menu items that we don't PRETEND to enjoy, such as Fois Gras and the like on EVERYTHING. Duck liver paste smeared on my steak just doesn't do it for me. To each their looked as if all inside were having a wonderful time and enjoying the food, and that's all that matters. I heard NO complaints. If you love those kind of foods, you should DEFINITELY enjoy it. We heard from other passengers that they waited 2+ hours for their food in Skyline and Liberty. And it wasn't even full. For that reason we didn't bother, although when we questioned the front desk about this, they blamed it on the "experience". I'll have a "starving experience" some other time, thanks. Everyone else who mentioned this agreed, not surprisingly. Restaurant Displays: They had these ingenious plasma displays around the ship giving real-time dining information. These are great! Would be nice to have the info on your stateroom TV as well. I don't think they worked properly for some venues though. They always showed availability in East Meets West/Shabu Shabu. Which is why we ventured down there for a last minute table, only to find out that the monitors don't anticipate, nor take into account, any reservations. So even when it showed availability, there actually wasn't. This will confuse most, I am sure. If they can get the system better, and even install more screens around, NCL will get praise. Spa: We both had massages. They were decent with lava rocks and all. Ernest(?) was particularly good. Regis was right. :) The spa itself featured therapy rooms that had windows overlooking a public deck. This means you can't gaze out onto the water during your treatments, and you see peoples shadows strolling by through the blinds. Not relaxing enough of a setting for me. Pool: Pool area was a bit smaller than what I expected. The Pools and spas were consistently dominated by 6 and 16 year olds. If you wanted to get in, you had to deal. People just let their kids go crazy. I believe the water was actually fresh water. Not brackish, or salty at all. I didn't see diapers on the kids while in the pool, which was nice to know. They opened up the gyroscope and trampoline rides for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes each day. The pool bars closed obnoxiously early every night, which brings me to - Entertainment: The only other places to go was the Pepto-Bismol slathered Pink's Bar, and the Mardi Gras lounge. Both had just ok live entertainment. They were all good at what they do, but maybe not appropriate for a ship as the ONLY thing to see. I compared the crowd (more like group) to a rock concert in communist China. ANYBODY BREATHING IN HERE? The DJ had access to very limited music.....not his fault, NCL's I heard. The comedian was hilarious in the theatre. At least see that. The bartenders and wait-staff were our entertainment. Bring sleeping pills, and get to bed early. LOL. After all, the Islands are what you're here for. Ship Decor/Appearance: Multiple Personalities come to mind. I really don't understand where they were going with it. Don't get me wrong, ALL of the public rooms were VERY nicely appointed for an NCL ship. It is DEFINITELY a step up. I just don't see how the rooms flow at all. You go from Hawaiian tropical to Washington D.C. in 2 steps. Then you go to your room and you get Italian modern. All while walking on patriotic starred carpet that turns into lily pads and water. Weird. But still attractive. Crew: I personally LOVED the crew. There were a few who knew I was ill, and tried at ALL TIMES to make me comfy. Lori, our favorite waitress from the Lazy J, would run into us as she was walking around the promenade on occasion. She always made sure everything was ok, and that we had what we wanted. She saw me getting nauseated, and immediately had a Ginger Ale and Bitters ordered for me. No questions. She wasn't even on duty!!!!! Sometimes you do have to be careful with some, as they LOVE to talk. This is good when you're bored, but other times, you kinda felt like you couldn't get away without being rude. We just kept in mind that some of them are displaced, and lonely. Most are far away from home and family. Some of them were consistently checking their cell phones from their posts, others worked hard and diligently. There were a lot of Hawai'ian's as crew which was great. They smile when you talk about how beautiful the islands are. Especially when you were on their island. Very informative about their home. Ship Stability: Ok, this is important. Every time the ship sailed, I was sick. I am used to the waters of the Caribbean, being mostly smooth sailing. Out here in the middle of the Pacific, there is nothing to break the waves. The first 2 nights were a nightmare for me. Most will have no trouble, but it is not a smooth sail. At least not for us. I don't believe that this is a design problem, although could it have been caused by our slower sailing speed? I feel really bad for those on the Wind heading for Kiribati (Fanning Island). Problems with the engine: Yes there were problems with the main engines. This affected the top speed of the ship. The only interference we had was that instead of cruising the Na Pali coast in the morning upon arrival in Kauai, we saw it by sunset on our sail back to O'ahu the night before departure. This was actually better for us, as we are later to rise than most. Still the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my whole life. Kauai was indeed my favorite place with the Big Island in second. TV: I was sick, so I had plenty of time to check it out. I was bothered that there was no Navigation Information displayed. I like knowing the seas, our speed, location....etc. There are 2 channels for NCL that repeated over and over as advertisements, and a movie channel, CNN, TNT, and that's all I remember. There was a channel that showed Discovery-like programs. Could be more, but I do remember 4 blank-screen music channels. Car Rental: The best money I spent was enrolling in the Hertz Gold Club. When you get to the rental place, you don't have to wait in line at all. Just go to the board, check for the spot number next to your name, get into the car, and go! We were out of there in 2 minutes flat EVERY TIME! We LOVED not having to make a mad rush from the shuttle to the line. This could save you hours on the islands. Also, you get a small discount on your rentals that kind of offsets the price for the membership. It was still worth it without the discount though. There are convenient and close places for you to park at all the overnight ports, so you can keep your car 2 days, and we only paid once in Kauai, $5.00 for the whole stay. No biggie. Flights: Booked through NCL. Delta and United the whole way there and back. Yeah, we got a red-eye home, but we slept through it. In summary, I felt that this was a great trip and well worth the money. We had a great time, and we decided that we would do this again. In a heartbeat! Actually, I most likely will be doing this again, being I lost some days on islands because I was ill. Most others we talked to decided the same thing, even though others had more problems than we did. My best advice is to come aboard with lots of tipping cash, and lower your expectations in terms of a more "luxury oriented service". This doesn't mean you get bad service at all. It just means that NCL is different from the rest, my opinion, in that they TRY to be everything to everyone. Have a great time! I can't wait to go again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
I just returned from the July 23 sailing on Pride of America. I traveled with my husband and son (age 12). This is our 9th cruise, we have cruised on Carnival, RCCL, and Celebrity, mostly west coast Mexico. This was our 1st trip to Hawaii. ... Read More
I just returned from the July 23 sailing on Pride of America. I traveled with my husband and son (age 12). This is our 9th cruise, we have cruised on Carnival, RCCL, and Celebrity, mostly west coast Mexico. This was our 1st trip to Hawaii. Overall we had a great time. If you think of the ship as a giant hotel with little rooms and restaurants with quality on par with Denny's, Sizzler, and Hometown Buffet, but relocates to a new island everyday then you'll be happy. If you are looking for a "real cruise" experience then you'll be disappointed. When we arrived at the airport in Honolulu they didn't make it very clear that you needed to get on a shuttle, or make a long hike to the other side of the airport to find your luggage. When we finally found the right building we found our NCL representative who told us to get our bags and wait near them, they then seemed very confused about what to do with the Pride of America people, most of the people arriving were going to NCL Wind. We were lead around to a couple places before finally deciding what to do with us. This was the first time I wasn't met by someone from the cruise line that took our luggage and put it on a cart or had a skycap available for us. When we got out of the shuttle at the pier again no one to help with the luggage. Not a big deal, just something I'm not used to. At the pier things seemed very confused and no one giving directions. You just had to get in a line and hope you were where you were supposed to be. We were given Leis before our photos were taken. We were given Passports to help us get familiar with the ship, the ink wasn't dry and got all over my hand, as we went around the different locations to get our stamps, no one at the stations seemed to know what they were, many of the stations were not opened. The idea was to get stamps from the different bars, restaurant, and stores by dinner then you could turn it in for a chance to win a prize. Nice idea, still needs a little work. Dining; the freestyle dining was a great idea, we like to eat early, so we had little problem getting reservations to the specialty restaurants. We tried the Cadillac Diner, the service was very bad both times we ate there, once for breakfast, once for dinner. We also ate at the Lazy J steakhouse, we call it the Lousy J. They charge $15 per person from the regular menu and an additional $10 ($25 total)per person from the special menu (Lobster). My husband had Filet Mignon and it was very tender, no flavor. My son ordered the New York and I needed a saw to cut it. I ordered the Ribeye, it had a good flavor and was tender, but I had a hard time finding the meat with all the fat. We ate twice at Little Italy, and weren't impressed. My son and I ordered the chicken parmesan and it was just not good. My husband ordered the beef tenderloin, it was good. The next time we ordered the beef tenderloin, lasagna and pizza. The lasagna was pretty good. The pizza is the same thing you get upstairs on the buffet. We didn't try East meets West, many people said it was good. We also didn't try the French Bistro. Each of those restaurants charge $10 per person. Be warned, if you miss your reservation they charge you anyway. The main dining rooms were hit or miss with both service and food quality. A little tip on reservations, the first day on board you can only make reservations for that night. You can then call (don't go downstairs and stand in line) the reservation desk and make reservations for the rest of the week. The Cabins: We were on the 8th deck Aft we had a balcony and the room was great. Our room steward was originally from Jamaica and was great, very friendly. We had everything we were supposed to have, but our safe wasn't working and we had to make a dozen calls before we could get anyone to look at it, they never let us know if and when it would get fixed, we gave up. They didn't have anywhere else to store our valuables. I loved having the balcony, but I wouldn't choose the back of the ship again, we usually had a very ugly view while in port. It appears from talking to many other people onboard that the service was better on the upper decks than on the lower decks, I heard many complaints about no toilet paper, towels etc. I was glad I read the prior reviews, I don't think I would have noticed the side mirror opened for storage in the bathroom. Public rooms: The ship is clean and the technology is state of the art. We loved having real internet and the fees were very reasonable. We could hook up in our room or use wireless in many public areas. The dining kiosk was great. They had all the restaurants listed with wait times, and info on which could seat large groups. The layout was a little weird. Most of the restaurants were in what should have been passageways, Little Italy was in the middle of the Aloha cafe. From the aft of the ship when we went ashore we had to go up to deck 7 or higher or go through the maze of restaurants. Finding the kids club and arcade was difficult, on the ship map it appears that the elevator goes up to deck 14, but it doesn't. I was told the ship was completely booked, but the ship didn't feel full. The only places that ever seemed to be crowded or have a line was the Reception desk area with lines at the shore excursion desk and the restaurant reservation desk. Entertainment: We didn't go to any shows. I heard mixed reviews from other passengers. We got the kids club schedule of events for the whole week, not much to do, so we never signed up. The arcade was pretty bad too. The shops are not duty free like on other ships, but they had the typical resort wear and NCL merchandise. They had a shop dedicated to golf, from what I understood they could get you tee times at the various islands. My major complaints: We were 3 hours late getting into Hilo we were due to dock at 8am and at 8:15 they made the announcement that we had engine problems overnight and had to reduce speed, and we would be docking at 11am. Then announced all of the cancelled shore excursions. The NCL Wind was also in port, so there were no rental cars to be found for anyone who just had there excursion cancelled. Fortunately I made reservations months in advance and called my company to make sure they didn't give my car away. We weren't able to see all that we had planned. When we went to Kaua'i we arrived 2 hours early, again the reason was the engines. This was the only port we had an excursion planned and we had 2 hours to kill waiting for it. We were in this port overnight, so Friday we were going to leave 2 hours early the next day again we were saved by having rented a car, but another list of cancelled or adjusted excursions was announced. By leaving 2 hours early we were able to cruise by the Na Pali coast. We dined in Little Italy that night and were able to watch the coast as we ate. My biggest complaint the Chocolate buffet. They announced it the night before that it would be at 2:30pm while we were in Kona, the only port we had to anchor out. I met a couple who tried to make it back to the ship in time to at least get a few nibbles, by the time they tendered back to the ship and found it it was 3:32(it ended at 3:30) and they weren't permitted to go into the room. Disembarkation was nice. We added a couple days onto the end of our trip, so we put our bags out Friday night and they were taken to our hotel the next day. We disembarked at 7:30 with the people who were willing to take their own luggage. The shuttle to our hotel was at 10am, but we rented a car and were able to take the shuttle to the rental office at 8am. We then went to preregister at the hotel, they stored our carryon luggage and put our computer in a safe deposit box. We went to see the Arizona memorial and the mighty mo, where we ran into people from the ship who paid a lot of money for the ships excursion and still had to stand in the line for tickets for over 1 hour. When we got back to the hotel we didn't have to stand in the long check in line, we were able to pick up our keys and about 20 minutes later (around 4:30pm) our luggage arrived at our door. This was a great way to see many islands in a short time, but I would never do it again. I met people who have cruised NCL before and said this ships service and food are not what they have experienced in the past. Still, I doubt I will book NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Embarkation was a breeze, once we got through a bottleneck at security. From the time we stepped out of the cab until we walked the gangway was about 45 minutes (30 minutes in the security line) and that included filling out luggage tags. ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze, once we got through a bottleneck at security. From the time we stepped out of the cab until we walked the gangway was about 45 minutes (30 minutes in the security line) and that included filling out luggage tags. When we got to our cabin it was clean and made-up. The only thing was that we never had bedspreads like you see in the website photos. I don't know if they ran out or our room stewardess just didn't put them on the beds. No biggie, just odd. Our cabin was an obscured oceanview, category G. There were four of us sharing the space: mom, dad and two teenagers. Our cabin had two lower beds and two pullmans. It had what NCL called a single French window that was about four feet wide and floor to ceiling. The window was almost half as wide as our cabin. Most of the other cabins I saw had a double French window. Even with the obscured view, we could see plenty and had lots of natural light. The cabin didn't seem any smaller than an inside cabin we had on the Diamond Princess last summer. It had plenty of storage: four drawers,shelves below the tv, above the fridge, above the desk, and in the closet, and shelves behind the mirror in the bathroom for toiletries. The closet had about four feet of hanging space with a flip down bar to hang short stuff above and below. Our luggage fit under the beds. The cabin stayed pretty tidy with all of the places to put stuff. I would suggest making reservations for the specialty restaurants as soon as you can. We had no problems, but I heard a few people saying that they couldn't get in towards the end of the week. The specialty restaurants we sampled were: Cadillac Diner and Little Italy (no extra charge for either) and East Meets West and Jefferson Bistro ($10/person). The rest of the dinners we ate in both the Liberty and Skyline Restaurants. Some of the meals were great and some were just ok. We had a chicken Caesar wrap in the Cadillac that I would avoid, but the chili was wonderful. The highlight for me was talking with the servers. They all wanted to talk and tell us where they were from and asked where we were from. One guy from Long Beach, CA (we are from Burbank, CA) ask if we could do him a favor. He asked if we would mind eating an In-N-Out Burger for him when we got home! Ah, the things we get homesick for! We went to all of the evening shows in the Hollywood Theater. We like the juggler/comedian, Barry Johns, the best. He was really funny. The singing and dancing productions had wonderful entertainers with pretty bad material. The numbers just didn't flow well. There was a comedian whose name I can't remember that was sort of funny, but not everyone's cup of tea. He got fairly political (not a good idea if you don't know your crowd) and did some audience interaction that really didn't go anywhere. I'd give him a "C". Not to go into too much detail about what we did in port, but to say we didn't do any NCL excursions. We rented cars in each of the ports. The two nights that we spent tied up to the dock, there were places to park a rental overnight. On Maui it was free. On Kauai we paid $10 for a lot that a guy was sitting at all night. Others on Cruise Critic have said they paid $5, but I don't know where that was. It worked out really well with the rental cars. These are some of the drives we took: Hawaii--Volcanoes National Park and the Kona Coast Maui--Lahaina and Kaanapali Beach one day and the Road to Hana and the Seven Sacred Pools the second day. Kauai--Waimea Canyon and Poipu Beach the first day and Wailea River and the Fern Grotto the second day. This cruise was a wonderful way to see so many beautiful places and meet so many friendly people...particularly the crew on the ship. I would do it again in a heartbeat! Check out our photos at: Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Been on a number of cruises in recent years... Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and have got to say the Pride of America was, in a word, unique. Service ranged from first class to rude... overall rating at best could be categorized as ... Read More
Been on a number of cruises in recent years... Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and have got to say the Pride of America was, in a word, unique. Service ranged from first class to rude... overall rating at best could be categorized as spotty. The photographers were pushy and always had a "comment" if you declined an offer to be held up and photographed at every port. The Italian specialty restaurant should be avoided at all costs... the food was dismal (small portions of frozen TV dinner quality and the young man from Guam who greeted and seated us was a boorish snob. Most obnoxious crew member I have ever encountered on any cruise. There were some high points... The Texas Steakhouse and East Meets West exceeded my expectations. The Cadillac Diner was almost as bad as the Italian eatery. The Aloha Buffet was OK... Couldn't seem to get over the fact that most of the crew we encountered almost seemed overwhelmed by their appointed tasks at hand. Our room host was pleasant but always seemed short on towels and bed linens... I especially enjoyed the little yellow sticky note on our bathroom mirror stating there would be no towels available until later that night... just want you want to see after a long day of volcano hiking... a quick trip to the pool towel stash resolved that issue. I think the most amazing thing about this particular ride was you could never count on the toilet flushing after you used it. Ours remained out of commission for nearly 10 hours one day... the highlight of which was when it started pumping out raw sewerage into the bathroom floor. It took several calls and a trip to the customer what service? desk to resolve that issue. Also, the boat always smelled nasty, especially during peak flush periods. A vacuum pump responsible for sucking the waste out of the respective commodes was the apparent culprit (not the company line that someone had put a no no in the potty). So.... did all of this ruin our trip to paradise. Absolutely not... the NCL hosted excursions were top drawer in every respect (Road to Hanna, Crater and Turtle Arches Snorkel, and Volcano Hiking Adventure should not be missed)... the boat sponsored Luau wasn't really worth the money but still entertaining. Consider Island Helicopters in Kuai for your chopper ride... lots of air time over a bigger portion of the Island. The islands were out of this world... sadly you had to take the Greyhound Bus of the Seven Seas to enjoy them. Not sorry we went but the boat and the quality of service it offers is in need of serious improvement. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
We went on this cruise for our honeymoon. When we walked in for embarkation, a friendly woman asked if we were celebrating anything special and we told her. Immediately, we were whisked to the VIP line and waited at most 5 minutes to check ... Read More
We went on this cruise for our honeymoon. When we walked in for embarkation, a friendly woman asked if we were celebrating anything special and we told her. Immediately, we were whisked to the VIP line and waited at most 5 minutes to check in and get set up. We were in our room maybe 20 minutes after we arrived at the ship. We walked into our room to find two twin beds. Great for any honeymooners... We asked our room steward to make one bed and he said sure, in a minute. We went to explore and came back before the lifeboat drill and they still weren't done. We told him we were on our honeymoon and he asked why we didn't tell him sooner!?!? He fixed it pretty soon after that. The room was small, but laid out as well as possible. However, if one of us was getting in the closet, the other could not come in or out of the bathroom. Our room steward was consistently slow getting our room made up and turned down. Some nights, we never got it turned down no matter how long we seemed to wander around. Our first night in the dining room was pitiful. We spent almost 2 hours having dinner, which made us miss the leaving of the ship from Honolulu. The service was slow and the food was poor! Almost everything had allspice in it from eggdrop soup to fettuccini alfredo! Both of us have been on many cruises before and were very disappointed with this experience. The food was bad, unless you paid extra, and the service was slow and poor. It just seems like we didn't get what we bargained for. The ship itself is incredible. It's new and clean, but a great ship will only impress for so long. Most of the crew was around our age and had obviously taken a semester off to see Hawaii. It was very different from a crew who is working hard to support a family at home in a foreign country. We would both suggest an international cruise over this one any day. Not only would the service be better, it would also be cheaper. We both agreed that the redeeming point of this cruise was that we were with each other and on our honeymoon. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2005
We were a family group of 5 that booked one of the new family suites this ship has to offer. This was our 5th cruise (2 of which had been on the SS Independence). To start with, the Ship is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and we had a ... Read More
We were a family group of 5 that booked one of the new family suites this ship has to offer. This was our 5th cruise (2 of which had been on the SS Independence). To start with, the Ship is absolutely beautiful, inside and out and we had a wonderful time in paradise. However, our experience was not all we hoped it would be. When we arrived, our suite (a little smaller than anticipated) still had debris (half eaten banana, dirty dishes, etc.). But to the cabin stewards' credit, they jumped right in and cleaned everything quickly, including the "debris" left by seagulls on the deck chairs. We also found storage to be an issue in our family suite (Deck 10, cabin 10178). However, while storage isn't exactly what I expected, the room was very well appointed and easy to get around in -- we just moved the extra chairs, etc., out to the wonderful, incredibly enormous, balcony this suite has. We found the bathroom adequate but the beds (probably because they are so new) were very, very hard. It took a couple of days for our cabin steward Sharon to get everything down -- 5 people need 5 towels, etc. Once she did things were fine except that we never saw a towel animal at any time, even for my 9 year son who truthfully, I don't believe missed it. As to the dinning -- we tried all but Le Bistro (menu didn't appeal) and truthfully this is where we had issue. Service for us was slow -- we never were able to finish any meal under 2 and half hours -- any restaurant, any time of day -- excluding, of course, the Aloha Buffet. However, as time went on, it seemed that this wasn't an issue re waiters/waitresses but rather, servers waiting for the food from the kitchen. I second the opinion on the lack of spice -- overall I found the food in all the dinning rooms we visited to be good but the menu didn't vary enough and by the end of 10 days I was definitely in mood for something else. Kudos to the Aloha Buffet -- the all you could eat lobster night (the night we left Kona) was a wonderful treat, especially as it also offered shrimp, salmon, cat fish and other tasty items. Some disappointing items: our beautiful balcony was never cleaned in any way. This might not have been an issue to others but since our balcony was directly under the outside eating area of the Aloha Buffet (which they washed down every morning) it really became an issue to us. We went through one complete electrical blackout for our area that was a minimum inconvenience. However, our appliances (refrigerator, coffee pot, hair dryers, some lights) experienced many more outages -- it seems the fuses kept going. But with all things during our trip the ship's crew was completely responsive, helpful, incredibly sympathetic or apologetic as needed. We had heard rumors of staffing issues (I heard they lost 100, my husband had heard more like 30 of the crew in San Francisco) but whatever the issues, this crew is incredibly gracious and accommodating, the one acceptation, the whinny pastry girl in Skyline. And although I realize that its not the crew's fault that people flush what they shouldn't, it really is a bit much to have to tolerate three days in a row of your toilet being out of commission, sometimes for hours on end. We took a variety of shore excursions in every port and were pleased with all our choices except for the Body Glove snorkel on Kona (not as beginning as was billed) and the Luau at the Sheraton on Maui (rather a pasteurized version of what I had previous experienced when I had cruised with the SS Independence in 2000). A good tip is to plan all excursions in advance and book as early as you are certain of your plans. The upside of things: first, I cannot state this strong enough -- this is one beautiful ship. The card room, internet cafe, library area was design beautifully not to mention the Reception/Capitol Atrium area. Truthfully, I was truly amazed at the incredible amount of detail and care given to the appointments of all the areas on the ship. Secondly, the staff/crew of the ship were always accommodating -- with one or two very minor exceptions. I was not overly fond of the Cruise Director (he made a couple of comments that bordered on rude rather than funny in my opinion) but you can't fault him and his assistant Shona (sp?) for how hard they worked. I don't think they got more than a handful of hours of sleep the entire cruise. Will I cruise PO America again -- yes, in a heartbeat. Will I sign up for the repositioning cruise with Pride of Hawaii -- don't think so. I loved the five days at sea, but I think I'll wait for any potential kinks to be worked out first. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
My family of 15 cruised on POA July 30. We basically had a fantastic time in Hawaii and loved the islands. The ship has its high points and low points. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. Everyone is courteous and makes an ... Read More
My family of 15 cruised on POA July 30. We basically had a fantastic time in Hawaii and loved the islands. The ship has its high points and low points. The staff was extremely friendly and welcoming. Everyone is courteous and makes an effort to smile and say hello. We enjoyed our dining experiences in the Skyline, Liberty, and Aloha buffet. We ended up sitting at the same 2 tables in Skyline with the same waiters the last 4 or 5 nights and had excellent service. We never went to the specialty restaurants except Cadillac diner. The Cadillac had very poor service and food was only OK. (it happens to be only place serving waffles for breakfast). Food in main dining room was enjoyable and we were pleasantly surprised. Our biggest area of disappointment was the room cleanliness. Our rooms (we had 8 all together) were rarely cleaned properly and we only received evening turn down service once or twice. Housekeeping is definitely an area that POA needs to concentrate some effort on. It is a subject of discontent on most reviews. The fitness center is beautiful, but lacks adequate weight training equipment. Nice treadmills & offers spinning classes for $10.00. (point of info. for fitness buffs: there are nice 24 Hour Fitness studios next to Marriott on Waikiki and 1 block from the port in Maui!). We would recommend skipping the Luau in Maui. It is very expensive and food & drinks are mediocre. If you choose the luau you must be back on ship by 4:30 and it cuts into the 1st day on Maui. If you only need half a day of touring and want to experience a luau it may be worth it, but we felt it was a rip-off. We also recommend booking excursions in advance. Excursion desk had extremely long lines and had minimal desk hours. We booked ours in advance but ended up having 1 or 2 cancelled and several time changes once aboard the ship. Otherwise, the staff was helpful with excursion issues. The ship is laid out very well and is easy to navigate. One of the best floor plans we've seen on a ship. Overall we didn't feel the quality of the ship was as good as Disney, Royal Caribbean, or Princess. This wasn't too bad since the ship is in port every day and we only experienced the ship during evening hours. The shows were only fair; entertainers were talented but material was nothing great. My favorite show was the Hawaiian themed show. (beautiful costumes). The disembarkation was the best we ever experienced! Could be due to fact there are no customs or emigration lines to deal with. We had Pearl Harbor excursion so left ship early. We loved the idea of free-style disembarkation. Overall Pride of America is a beautiful ship with potential, but needs to iron out several issues to bring it up to par with other cruise ship experiences. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
We sailed on 7/23/05. Ship is brand new but housekeeping was a problem and service was not to a standard I would have expected for the price paid. We left Honolulu 4 hours late due to a 27 passengers late out of Denver. Obviously NCL felt ... Read More
We sailed on 7/23/05. Ship is brand new but housekeeping was a problem and service was not to a standard I would have expected for the price paid. We left Honolulu 4 hours late due to a 27 passengers late out of Denver. Obviously NCL felt these people were more important than the other 2000+ waiting to sail. We were 4 hours late into Hilo which caused a large number of excursions to be cancelled or rebooked. We left Kauai 3 hours early so NCL could get to Honolulu to work on the ships engines (one of the reasons given for late arrival into Hilo.) Embarkation: We had pre-boarding because of a 2 night pre-cruise add on at the Marriott. The only long line we dealt with was the lei greeting and photo. Dining: Food was adequate but not exceptional. Because NCL has a warehouse in Honolulu, we were told by several crew members that they could only take on provisions there. By Thursday, the dining rooms were out of fresh pineapple, pineapple juice and grapefruit juice. By Friday, the bananas on the Aloha Buffet were over ripe (BLACK). Service was substandard. While you could get an occasional good server, it was a rarity. The two young men who were host at Little Italy were one of the exceptions. Both were polite and helpful. We waited more than 45 minutes for breakfast in the Skyline two separate mornings. The LED screens for finding where to dine without a wait were a great idea when they were actually working. Standing in front of the Skyline we looked at the board which said the Cadillac Diner was open with no wait, we took stairs and arrived at the Diner within 3 minutes and found ourselves in a line and told it would be a 20 minute wait. The Host told us he had been just to busy to worry about updating the info on the LED screen. Public rooms: Most of the Public areas were okay. The biggest complaint I had was the automatic doors to the pool area were heavy and with the ship moving were really difficult to open and about 75% of the time the automatic assist was broken. Also, they had real problems with the elevators and toilets although not affected by the latter only the smell on level 4 when walking through. Entertainment: Didn't really attend. Cabin: Cabin is small even for two people. Closet space is VERY limited. The lanai was the best part of the cabin. Had a problem with the shower drain which took 2 days and 2 trips from maintenance to fix. Our cabin attendant was good, but not great. Soap dispenser in shower not filled upon arrival. Cabin made up as a double when requested a single (we rearranged the beds, but housekeeping never did provide a King bedspread). Service: Cranky crew members with "not my job" attitudes through out the ship. Ordering a Diet Coke in a specialty restaurant requires the crew member to go to the nearest bar and get it. There are no fountain dispensers set up in any specialty restaurant. The hours may not be the hours the bar was actually open. John Adams Coffee Bar was to open at 7AM and was NEVER open before 8AM. Although we left Kauai 3 hours early no attempt was made to open any additional facilities. Only the two pool bars and the Gold Rush were open. Unfortunately, there were incredibly long lines at the two pool bars and the Gold Rush was low on inventory. When we questioned this we were told that the "guy with the store room key would be on duty at 5PMand we should try then". Fitness Center: Equipment was nice, several machines were already out of order however. Shore Excursions: Extremely long lines due to the fact that the desk was only open 5 hours a day. Book on-line as soon as you can. Several times NCL only had one computer available (we were told several times that the other computer was not working) to scan ID cards for those leaving and returning to the ship. This caused long lines which could have been avoided by having leaving and returning guests use separate gangways like other cruise lines do. If you want to snorkel Molokini, book it independently for the morning of the second day of Maui. Ours was spoiled do to the fact that NCL offered only an afternoon snorkel on a 200+ passenger boat. We could not get close enough to any spot because of the winds and the size of the boat. The Na Pali Explorer Snorkel and Coastline viewing on Kauai was outstanding!!!! Disembarkation: One of the few thing NCL excelled at...getting off the ship even earlier than your tags said. NCL directs passengers to a specific location for cab service. These cabbies have paid a permit fee to NCL and we never did see a cab where we were sent. However, there were many cabs across the street so just look around after getting your luggage and head toward the cabs. Value: Overall the experience was not what I had expected for the amount of money. NCL is a Denny's/Motel 6 experience. Next time we will skip the cruise and enjoy Hawaii on our own. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
We sailed in Pride of America on July 30, 2005, and overall the cruise was great, but with a few exceptions. The ship is beautiful, clean, and well laid out. Overall we really liked the ship and the public rooms. We had a balcony cabin ... Read More
We sailed in Pride of America on July 30, 2005, and overall the cruise was great, but with a few exceptions. The ship is beautiful, clean, and well laid out. Overall we really liked the ship and the public rooms. We had a balcony cabin and it was the smallest we have ever encountered. The bedroom area was sufficient, but the bathroom looked like something out of a travel trailer. Really tiny. It was obvious by all of the complaints we heard that NCL has a real problem with cabin service on Pride of America. Cleaning was nonexistent and the cabin stewards did not seem to care. It was the worst we have ever had on a cruise. On other cruise lines, the cabin steward depends on tips, so they give good service. NCL levies a $10 per day per person charge to cover tips and supposedly distributes it to the crew. This is a bad policy since the crew has no incentive to do a good job. The dining options are varied with 2 main restaurants, a buffet, and several restaurants with surcharges. The main dining was good, but we have had better on other ships. The buffet was mediocre at best, although breakfast and lunch were good. We did not try the other restaurants. There were many shore excursion choices, but if you plan to go, book in advance. The lines at the shore excursion desk were long and slow. NCL overcharges for them and you can save a lot by booking directly with the tour companies. Example: Helicopter tour in Kauai with NCL is 199.00. Book it directly with HeliUSA for 150.00. We went to 2 shows and they were OK. Probably about on par with most cruises. The itinerary was very good. We especially enjoyed the sunset cruise along the Napali coast. If NCL can get their act straightened out with regard to cabin service, the ship will be great. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
This was our first cruise and our first time in Hawaii. We booked via the internet for our 20th wedding anniversary. We took the 7 day circle around the Hawaiian islands. The Trip We booked the airfare via NCL, had no issues with ... Read More
This was our first cruise and our first time in Hawaii. We booked via the internet for our 20th wedding anniversary. We took the 7 day circle around the Hawaiian islands. The Trip We booked the airfare via NCL, had no issues with luggage, the flight times and experienced no delays. Not a bad trip. The itinerary was perfect. Just enough time in port, traveling almost always at night. The Ship The ship is brand new so nearly everything is spotless and unused. We upgraded to a balcony cabin. We got lucky because nearly all the travel near the islands was on our side of the ship. The room and balcony was larger than I expected. I'm 6'4" and slept comfortably and was able to use the bathroom/shower without bumping into everything. Entertainment/Shore Excursions We booked all our excursions via the ship. I noticed many were much cheaper from the shore but we traded cash for convenience. We arrived late to our 1st destination where we booked a lava hike. Normally, the 6+ mile hike takes over half a day but due to the late arrival, it was more of a death march. We received 25% off and were very disappointed not to make it all the way to the lava in the time allotted. I loved the mountain bike ride in Maui. Apx 22 miles from the top of a volcano 10,487ft to the beach. Very beautiful, fast, scary and exciting. They should have warned us about the temperature (40 degrees F) or provided something warm to wear as I caught a cold which side-lined me for 2 days. The doctor was very helpful and explained everything well, gave me a series of drugs at a cost of apx 80$. The luau sucked. Basically a bus ride to a field at a hotel. There must have been 5000 people. I guess we should have known it was impersonal. The meal was ok but I tire of buffets. The desk staff was very lacking. Since we went for our anniversary, I pre-ordered champagne/fruit for embarkation. It was a no show. I visited the desk and scheduled it twice more, both no-shows. When trying to cancel it altogether, a manager near the desk said she would get to the bottom of it and call me. No call. Luckily, our neighbors had a bottle they had place in our room. We are in their debt. I had to visit the desk for one or two other minor issues with similar non-results. I have worked for 5 star hotels (Boca Raton Resort and Spa) and I hoped to see similar service. Dinners The dinner staff was numerous but inept. 3 people hovering over you both uncoordinated and unsure. Asking a junior member of the staff for wine nearly caused her to faint. The maitre d' had to serve it to us. On more than one occasion we got the wrong food. One particularly annoying time, we order a chocolate desert and they substituted strawberry not telling us until serving it. Very tacky, as If I'm an animal that will be happy with whatever they throw down? I guess they put the dregs in the freestyle areas. As a result, we spent a lot of time/money in the specialty restaurants. Not bad at all. Especially the hibachi and steak restaurant. I'm not sure if I will ever cruise again. I think you can probably get better service/experience on land or at least not be stuck with bad service for 7 days. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2005
Our cruise on the Pride of America was our 21st cruise so I can consider us experts. We have cruised all over the world but never been to Hawaii. We couldn't have had a better experience! In fact, we are considering next summer's ... Read More
Our cruise on the Pride of America was our 21st cruise so I can consider us experts. We have cruised all over the world but never been to Hawaii. We couldn't have had a better experience! In fact, we are considering next summer's new ship, The Pride of Hawaii. \I have read all the other reviews here and we seem to have had a much better experience. * Our bags were waiting in our cabin when we arrived. Henry, our steward, was exceptional and anticipated our every need. * We usually ate dinner about 7:30 and had leisurely experiences, but not excessively long waits. The food was what I would expect from a ship carrying 2,000 passengers. We ordered simple dishes and were never disappointed. One evening I asked for coffee ice cream and although they didn't have it on the menu they went to another dining room to get it. * We ate in all the specialty restaurants, except the sushi bar, and were delighted with all. We are used to New York City-quality food and this was just fine. * We had breakfast in our cabin most mornings and it arrived exactly on time and exactly what we ordered. * We loved the public areas and the outdoor areas. The pool had just the right amount of shade and never ran out of towels. And having the "adult" pool was a treat -- although there was no shade. * All the shore excursions we took were conducted by knowledgeable guides and we had no complaints. All in all, no complaints. We found the young American crew to be delightful and eager to please. They were very chatty and we enjoyed hearing their stories. No, these are not career waiters or stewards, but that's okay. Most had signed on for one-year and then they will be gone. We heard that there was a major crew upheaval when the ship entered service but by the time we sailed it seemed to have worked itself out. We had only two complaints: the public spaces were freezing! Everyone walked around hugging themselves. A little less air conditioning would have been fine and the crew manning the reception desk were idiots. We quickly learned not to ask them anything. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2005
Embarkation: A dream, no lines and we got on immediately. Short wait for our cabins but no more than 10 minutes. Food: Dismal at best, not what one would expect from a Major cruise line. I had read many reviews on how poor the quality of ... Read More
Embarkation: A dream, no lines and we got on immediately. Short wait for our cabins but no more than 10 minutes. Food: Dismal at best, not what one would expect from a Major cruise line. I had read many reviews on how poor the quality of the food was, however, I was not prepared by how little things had improved by the time I sailed. It took 3 hours for each meal in the Skyline Restaurant (we ate there 3 times). Although we had one of the better waiters and assistants, it takes to long for the food from the kitchen. It could well be Freestyle cruising, but, I belive it is just inexperienced kitchen staff. We ate one night in the Lazy J and one night in Little Italy. Both meals were exceptional, service was fantastic. However, if I had not read on these boards about the need to book on Sunday am at 7, I would not have gotten a reservation. If you do not you will NOT get a reservation. The line forms well before 7am and it books quickly, (my first 2 time choices were not available and I was 20th in line). So my advice is get up and get in line if your interested in eating there. The menu changes very slightly in the main dining rooms and my 17 year old niece ate chicken and beef every night but once when we ate in Little Italy. Ate one night in the Cadillac Diner, food was ok, service slow. Bread is delicious. Never saw a grape or strawberry, and every morning watermelon or pineapple were in the buffet. Don't miss the chocolate buffet, it was GREAT. The wait staff is working very hard on its customer service and everyone we met was terrific. I have not one complaint about the American crew. Although my suggestion to NCL is to train the American crew on a NCL ship for at least 3 months prior to placing them on the Hawaii ships. This way they can work their tails off and decide if it is for them. I saw 3 different crew members leaving at ports saying they had had enough. The cabin is so small you can not turn around, I mean this LITERALLY..............We had 3 people in the room and it was beyond cramped. Couldn't open the balcony door at night unless we climbed over the pull out sleeper chair. Not enough storage for our clothes,or personal items. I packed everything in the 2 1/2 gallon Ziplock bags and so our clothes were bagged the entire week. (Not bad as the clean stuff never left the bag and I can just put it away). But keep in mind how close the quarters are and do not expect a lot of room. I gave the room steward a $20 bill when we got on and so I had great service and always what I needed, the rest of the people in our group (traveled with a group of 22), never had clean towels or their beds turned down. One couple had the service charges removed because they felt they had such dismal service all week. You will need to ask for a egg carton as the beds are like rocks. Also NCL does not put a top sheet on the bed just a duvet cover, so if you want a top sheet you better ask for it before you go to bed so that your not looking for it at night. The ship lost electrical power on the 19th (Friday) in the middle of the night so we all woke up to no air conditioning or hot water. No explanation was given. It sure was HOT. The room was never cold enough for me. No sailing by the Na'Paoli coastline either, due to a propulsion problem. I never felt any problem and we sure made great time getting back to Honolulu. They offered you a rum punch drink for the missing of the coastline viewing. I thought the ship was rockier when we left Honolulu. But, I am not an engineer so what do I know? We didn't make it into Hilo until after 10 am either. The hot tubs were so loaded with chlorine that on the first day they ruined my husband and nieces bathing suit. I was given a ship board credit and the matter was handled to my satisfaction immediately. The comedian Bud Andersen was the BEST I have ever seen anywhere. The juggler was phenomenal. The other shows were not to my liking. The singer in Pinks is wonderful (I couldn't stay to enjoy him as it is loaded with cigar smoke). No casino, (my husband really missed this, but, we came home with money) I must admit that after a full day on the Islands I was tired and in bed by 10. At each port they go thru all your bags (ok with me). But, they carry it to the extreme when they shake up your soda and sniff your water to make sure your not sneaking any alcohol on board. I don't drink so this is not a problem for me. But it sure is ridiculous. How many drinks do they think you can make with a 16 oz bottle of rum? Most people do not care to carry on booze and you can drink as much as you want on the Islands. A bit excessive. Debarkation: Was smooth and great that you could wait in your cabins, instead of 3000 people all over the place with their luggage. But,it takes way to long for your luggage and they need a new system for this. Porters were fast and efficient at helping you once you found your luggage. I used a new service I found at the Marriott for our precruise stay called Baggagedirect. For a fee they printed our boarding passes and picked up and transported all of the luggage from the pier to the Airport. We didn't see it again until we picked it up in Philadelphia. Well worth the money. I can honestly say this was the first cruise I was ever delighted to get off of. All in all this was not the cruise I dreamed it would be. But, it could have been far worse. After reading these boards I was certainly prepared for everything. Read Less
Pride of America Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 3.9
Dining 5.0 3.5
Entertainment 4.0 3.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.8
Family 5.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 5.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 3.0 3.7

Find a Pride of America Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise